By ODILIM ENWEGBARA
One thing I learned from my late father was to never write in a hurry or under the influence of any form of substance that could easily derail one’s mind and thoughts. Fully aware of both the immense good and the immense damage the pen can easily do, Edward Bulwer-Lytton who coined “the pen is mightier than the sword” insisted that the pen should be used with the utmost care by whoever has its power because, once harm is committed with it, it becomes extremely irretrievable. Even Euripides, the famous Greek tragedian, warned that as soft and powerless as the tongue looks, “The tongue is mightier than the blade,” so care should be exercised in our use of the tongue. It is especially so in fast-emerging modern societies like ours. Civility should always prevail.
Since my attention was drawn to Churchill Okonkwo’s long-standing pattern of delusional obsession with Atiku Abubakar and members of his family, all my investigations to find out the reasons have shown he has paranoid personality disorder (PPP). One of the frequent physiognomies of this mental illness is pervasive distrust, suspicion and hatred of some highly successful people. And once the hatred is built in the sufferer’s mind, his hypersensitivity goes on to trigger an endless ease to insult the hated person or persons. Thus, people with PPP tend to engage in endless insults of whoever is their target, and they do so without any fear of reprisal; being a mental disorder, the PPP sickness hardly allows its patients a sense of even-handedness or shame.
It is on this sorry note that I intend to diagnose Churchill Okonkwo’s attack on Dr Jennifer Atiku Abubakar. I will try to avoid joining issues with him; as our people say, if a sane man ran after an insane man in a market square, both of them would be regarded as insane. That is why I easily get lost reading Okonkwo’s pieces on many Nigerians. He starts with vulgar language and ends with even more vulgar language. Civility is always lacking. Sometimes you are left with nothing else except wonder about his deep-seated anger. But that is common with PPP patients.
The worst insult from an unreasonable man is to go after another man’s wife. That is a dangerous line for a fool to cross, because every man’s pride lies in how he is able to protect his wife from other men’s insults. Men, no matter how highly placed in the society, would rather forgive those who insult them than those who insult their wives. Even the friendly and always-smiling Bill Clinton might never forgive President Donald Trump for the unprintable insults he heaped on his wife Hillary during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaigns.
Like her husband who is self-made, Dr Jennifer Atiku Abubakar started as a broadcast journalist and ended up a renowned political scientist, an accomplished academic (teaching at some great U.S. universities and some other countries), and, as if not enough, carved out a niche for herself in law practice. As the managing partner at Miyetti Law in Nigeria, she provides strategic counsel and general advisory to governments and corporations around the world. She is also the editor-in-chief of the Miyetti Quarterly Law Review.
Jennifer Atiku Abubakar has earned herself great achievements — exceptional achievements that make her stand out anywhere in the world. Becoming this successful through personal and professional excellence driven by lifelong learning always requires immense personal discipline and self-respect. It requires continuous cosmopolitan outlook and incredible sacrifices to keep the required high integrity for nourishing a great success story.
And I can’t wait to ask: Is it this same Jennifer that Churchill Okonkwo could qualify as a con artist whom the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs investigated from 2000 to 2008 over a report that she helped Atiku Abubakar “bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations”? I remember what I had to go through when I wired the sum of $100,000 from my London Barclays Bank account to a bank in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Notwithstanding the reason I gave – the money was for my education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), $48,000 for a semester tuition and $52,000 for my upkeep (books, housing, feeding, etc.) – the money was still withheld and only later released after the conclusion of investigations which required MIT to provide information to the Federal Government Office in Boston to that effect.
Does Okonkwo know how much $40 million is? If he did, he should have known that no foreign corporation would have engaged in such a wire transfer on behalf of an individual. And, of course, no U.S. bank would have accepted to pay such huge sum into an individual or corporate account without first reporting it and getting approval from one of the U.S. Federal Reserve banks. Perhaps Mr Okonkwo doesn’t even know that the Homeland Security he referred to in his article was only set up as a department by President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Does he know that with its core responsibility being to prevent such attacks in the U.S., one of the preventative measures is monitoring movement of large funds not just in the U.S. but also around the world? Does he know that such $40 million wire transfer would also have been blocked with the Justice Department quickly mandating the CIA, FBI, and the State Department to go after whoever was involved and forcefully bring culprits to the U.S. for justice, no matter who they are and where in the world they reside?
Why should such offence have to require a Congressional investigation, which is what Congressional hearing is all about? If that is the case, why hasn’t the U.S. Justice Department declared the Atikus wanted? Or, as I asked earlier in a similar accusation against Atiku Abubakar himself, where is the evidence, where is the so-called Congressional Report in the Congressional Archives? What is the reference number of the so-called hearing report? Maybe Okonkwo does not know what Congressional hearings are all about; if he did, he would have known that Congress is different from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whose duty it is to conduct full investigation into such offences and bring culprits to justice without a second wasted.
“Jennifer Atiku helped her husband establish the American University of Nigeria at a point poor Nigerian students were languishing at home due to strike action by university lectures over poor funding.” Certainly, this only confirms Okonkwo’s obsession with the Atikus. But wait a minute, what is the sin committed by the Atikus for setting up a leading university in his Adamawa state, a world-branded university? After all the trillions of naira Tinubu has earned from Lagos as its tax collector, where is Tinubu’s own university in Lagos? What about Buhari? Can Okonkwo show us at least a primary school built in Katsina by Buhari? As rich as Dangote is – he is the richest man in Africa – where is Dangote University in Kano?
I ask these questions because one of the greatest achievements any sensible man could make is founding a university for his community or his people. With AUN, Atiku is today in the class of John Harvard who funded the establishment of Harvard University; William Barton Rogers, founder, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University; Samuel Andrew, Yale University; Ezra Cornell, founder of Cornell University, etc. We have to praise the Atikus for their foresight: the leading AUN annually saves the country hundreds of millions of dollars that would have been spent overseas by rich Nigerians who want their children educated at elite universities overseas.
Here is another trifling accusation of his: “…Jennifer Douglas Atiku cannot be trusted when she said that a ‘PDP government would create an environment for business to thrive with a view to ensuring that the citizens were lifted above poverty.’ Jennifer Douglas Atiku is deceiving Nigerians when she said that ‘there is an urgent need to get every sector of the country working again to enable citizens to enjoy a better life.’’’ As a mother, what more should Dr (Mrs) Jennifer Atiku Abubakar want Nigerians to expect from her husband than economic prosperity and jobs? What was her sin in asking Nigerians to expect a more prosperous country from the soon-to-be PDP government led by her husband?
Why am I even wasting my pen and time responding to this young man who, no doubt, is suffering from PPP? Well, it is not to join issues with him. I know that every intelligent Nigerian who reads him would understand that his accusations are completely baseless. Someone who is taking full advantage of this PPP patient could have continued to use him to try blackmail the Atikus.
It cannot be a mere coincidence that each time Bola Tinubu attacks Atiku Abubakar, Churchill Okonkwo writes a follow-up, in most cases to strengthen Tinubu’s earlier accusations. Why are both making up these imaginary accusations? Has Churchill Okonkwo become the media version of Tinubu’s “Area boys”? If Tinubu had issues with Senator Dino Melaye and had been using the police and DSS to attack his beautiful wife, should the same Tinubu have approved Okonkwo’s blackmailing of Atiku’s amiable wife?
Why Tinubu? Someone will ask. Tinubu’s desperation to reelect Buhari has become a do-or-die affair because re-electing Buhari automatically clears the way for his 2023 presidential ambitions. Buhari fully aware of Tinubu’s desperation handed him his reelection campaigns. Oshiomhole was made APC Chairman simply because of Tinubu’s 2013 ambition. And the $50 million Oshiomhole extorted from party members during the primaries has since been deployed in bribing and making those PDP members who refused to join APC given EFCC threats to join APC. Also N500 billion — I repeat N500 billion — has been set aside for vote buying targeted at 25 million voters with each to receive N20,000.
Also for Tinubu’s 2023 ambitions Ekiti and Osun governorship elections had to be rigged at all costs. Sponsoring powerful, rich and greedy Southeast business men has since been done to ensure that Atiku and Obi were defeated in Southeast. Billions of naira has since been handed to these business men to ferociously campaign against Atiku/Obi. Denying Ambode a reelection is important part of the package since Tinubu needs a governor who should hand Lagos’s treasury in preparation for his 2023 presidential ambition.
Dangote and Otedola had to be brought in with a promise to take over the country’s economy as they may wish. But as a result of Obasanjo’s alarm Tinubu’s dragging of the two powerful businessmen is in suspense. Rochas Okorocha’s Imo political base was crippled so as to ensure he never plans 2023 presidential ambitions. The Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Walter Onnoghen has to be replaced with someone who could easily give APC a free ride in the judiciary after rigging the presidential election. Making sure nothing stops the planned rigging, Buhari’s niece Amina Zakari has to be appointed the INEC collation officer. Zakari’s new appointment only confirms Tinubu’s desperation which is forcing the INEC Chairman to play along in re-electing Buhari at all cost.
But there are serious problems Tinubu faces for his 2023 ambitions. First, powerful Muslim Northern politicians will block his ambitions as he is expected to choose a Christian Northerner as a running mate. Second, Buhari wants Gov Kayode Fayemi with either Suleiman Adamu (his nephew and Water Resources Minister) or Mohammed Bello (FCT Minister) as running mate.
Tinubu or no Tinubu, I am calling the Atikus to forgive Okonkwo for the young man is a PPP patient. Yes, he must have committed pen murder, but does an insane person, who lacks sense of judgment and the consequences of his actions, be held responsible? But is this not an opportunity for the Atikus to remember that great leaders are great because they always focus on the ball rather than the noisy spectators’ distractions?
That is why from Okonkwo’s attacks on the Atikus, one sees a young man crying for help. As president-elect and as the new father of the nation, besides uniting and reconciling the overly divided and traumatised people of Nigeria and spreading peace and love, people like Churchill Okonkwo deserve presidential friendship and possibly assisted with picking up their psychiatric treatment bills. This now known, President Atiku should ensure that all psychiatric facilities across the nation are given urgent upgrading.
Coming out of jail, Mandela not only forgave those who jailed him for 27 years but befriended them. And Mandela was right: without revenging one’s offender, burden of guilt remains unrelieved. Mahatma Gandhi was also right, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” With Gandhi’s forgiving heart he forgave all his enemies, including the same British imperialists who colonised, exploited and killed thousands of Indians.
Enwegbara, a development economist.