by Stanley Azuakola
If you thought that the issues surrounding that Obiageli Ezekwesili speech given at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, were about to die down, you thought wrong. Doyin Okupe, the self-styled attack lion of the president whose official title is special adviser to the president on public affairs, has finally joined the party.
There’s only one explanation on why Okupe took this long to respond. He must have been away with President Goodluck Jonathan, who travelled in the last one week, first to Switzerland and then Ethiopia.
But Okupe is back, and it is for fights like this that he was employed. So, even though Information Minister, Labaran Maku, took time off his busy Good Governance Tour to respond to Ezekwesili, and special adviser to the president on new media, Reno Omokri, also responded in parables, Okupe felt the need to add his own two cents worth. He laid into Ezekwesili in his usual blustery and confrontational manner over her argument that President Goodluck Jonathan and his predecessor, Umaru Yaradua, collectively squandered $67billion from the nation’s reserves.
The back and forth between Ezekwesili and the presiden’t men so far has been heated but has never really dived into the depths of foulness or insults. After Maku’s response, there was that one occasion on Twitter when Ezekwesili described the minister as illiterate, and of course there were a few below the belt punches by Maku himself, but still it hasn’t been too incivil.
Until Okupe stepped in. His statement is a primer on how to respond to an argument like an uneducated urchin. In all, he abused the former minister at least 7 times in his 754-word statement. See examples below:
1. He described her as one of those “who use government offices to build up reputations for themselves and then later turn on the same government to denigrate it, just to play to the gallery and incite members of the public through dissemination of false, unsubstantiated and malicious information.”
2. Okupe said that they have no interest in debating with Ezekwesili but called on her, being “the Accuser or Agent Provocateur to assume the responsibility of providing the facts to back her claims.”
3. He quoted some CBN figures which he said shows “quite clearly without ambiguity that Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili lied shamelessly by publishing false figures.”
4. He said that the former World Bank vice-president was being preposterous for “asking for a National debate on the outlandish and reckless disinformation she made to incite the Nigerian people against the government.”
5. In Okupe’s opinion, Ezekwesili is a schemer, and her speech at UNN, “was a deliberately calculated, albeit unsuccessful effort to bring the Jonathan Administration into disrepute unjustifiably.”
6. He made two demands of her. The first one was a call for her to “show dignity and character by letting the Nigerian people, whom she sought out to fool, to know the source of her figures.” It is important to add at this point that Okupe, who is demanding for character has corruption and fraud accusations against him. Ezekwesili has none. That’s why when he adds that she should be “honourable enough to retract her statement and apologize to the government and people of Nigeria,” it seemed rather odd.
7. Okupe’s last stab at Ezekwesili was that “she should be regarded by all as a willfully perjured individual not worthy of any respect or recognition whatsoever.”
And with that, Okupe earned his wage for another month. Good luck to him. You can read his full statement here.
Now that Maku, Omokri and Okupe have all spoken. Next up, we believe: Reuben Abati. Over to you sir.