SATIRE SATURDAY: Olisa Metuh, court theatrics and APC born againism, By Oladeinde Olawoyin

In today’s Nigeria, the line between Nollywood flicks and real life happenings in the political space is becoming blurred by the day.

Lately, it is quite difficult to separate facts from fiction just as one can hardly tell the difference, if any, between stage-managed theatrics and natural happenstances. News items in the polity now appear in the dailies like synopses of Nollywood scripts––if they do not take the shape of comedy of the most farcical variant, they come in form of macabre dance.

Suspected herdsmen attacks. Boko Haram. ‘Apprehensive Transmission’ theatrical speech. More attacks. ‘Doctored Apprehension’. Mace Kidnap. Senator Melaye’s Jet Li-esque stunts. Intra-party violence at congresses. More attacks.

In other words, it is as though there are no excluded middle as far as occurrences in the polity go these days: they are either of the comic variant or the tragically sad dimension. Sometimes, the comics–often occasioned by a slip on the part of a public office holder–offer Nigerians the opportunity to take their own pound of flesh from the ruling elites; other times the tragic, which always affect the ‘ordinary Nigerian’, sends cold shivers down peoples’ spines.

On Monday, former spokesperson of the then ruling (some, especially the ‘Hailing hailers’, would say ‘ruining’) People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Olisah Metu, collapsed at the continuation of his trial for alleged fraud in the court. Mr Metuh is facing trial on a seven-count charge for alleged diversion of N400 million. He is said to have received the money from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, according to anti-graft agency EFCC.

Report said shortly after appearances were announced, Mr Metuh was called to the dock. But while he was walking towards the dock, the former PDP spokesperson fell, creating an abrupt chaos in the court room. Mr Metuh is said to be suffering from spinal cord injuries and has appeared in court on a stretcher several times.

But days after the news item went viral online, the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court said the former PDP spokesman stage-managed his own fall. The court even ruled for the continuation of the trial, describing Mr Metuh’s collapse as “planned” or “calculated”.
To be frank, it is difficult to sympathise with the average Nigerian politician especially if his/her (often shady) deals are put in the context of the ripple effects it has on the ordinary Nigerians. But it is equally important that the rule of law is respected just as it is binding on democratic institutions to be fair and just irrespective of the people involved. This gives a little bit of legitimacy to peoples’ skepticism about this government’s anti-corruption campaign, particularly as it appears to be targeted at opposition politicians.

But then, the court has in its own wisdom given its verdict and it would be preposterous to interrogate such in an ongoing trial.

What SATIRE SATURDAY however finds amusing is the shortsightedness of the average Nigerian politician, his cocky and loud persona notwithstanding. In other words, who flexes muscle with an opposing side when you can simply join them, drop a portion of your alleged loot and live in peace afterwards?

Since 2015, there’s virtually no state in Nigeria where an opposition PDP bigwig has not been dragged before anti-graft agencies over the 2015 general elections campaign funds. From Jigawa to Kano, Oyo to Osun, Taraba to Bauchi, we have had many PDP stalwarts questioned and made to face the music. (Meanwhile, the biggest mystery in the land remains how the then opposition APC funded its own campaign, but that’s by the way).

Interestingly, a few smart Alecs among the ex-PDP chiefs have foresight and have since “ported” into the APC. Largely, like whited sepulcher, they have become “born again” and now live in peace, with some even muting the idea of running for offices in the next election––on the platform of the APC! Others have taken it upon themselves to preach the gospel of the president’s incorruptibility to every part of Nigeria, junketing from Umuahia to Ado-ekiti, screaming “Change!”

Of course, there are a few ex-PDP chiefs who report said are among a host of suspects to be tried by the anti-graft agencies, months after they decamped to the APC. But then, those cases are few and far between and, on the flipside, in these days of “parallel congresses”, it is even unclear whether they do not belong to the anti-establishment “faction” of the party.

So the haunting question pops up: rather than the theatrics of the court room, when will Chief Olisa Metuh finally collapse into the APC and, like whited sepulcher, become “born again” and possibly be left to sin no more? Rather than collapse on the bare floor of the court room with his bare head kissing the bare floor without getting any succor, why not simply collapse into the haven of saints that is the ruling party?

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