Ododo Is Yahaya Bello’s Masterstroke, by Ugoji Egbujo

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Yayaha Bello is the genius. While other governors were searching for olodos and malleable lackeys to foist on their states as successors, Bello didn’t take any chances. He found Ododo. He must have known that the average political acolyte, oozing subservience from all orifices, might acquire some superciliousness or a sense of shame once enthroned.

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When that metamorphosis is triggered, and the stooge starts weaning himself, the growing self-awareness and returning introspection will evoke emotions with its appearance of virtue, jeopardising and ostracising the godfather. So, Bello sought a proper puppet. A puppet might be agile and smart, but strings and loops attach its brains, hands and legs to the body of the puppeteer. With a puppet masquerading as a protege on the throne, almost all fears of a spontaneous or induced recovery of personal autonomy are eliminated.

On his part, Wike, it seems, looked out for a seemingly docile and taciturn man who could swallow tons of s**t without blinking while maintaining absolute secrecy. A man with whom many financial skeletons had been buried. A man with whom a certain shared fate would be the consequence if a total political divorce accompanied by all-out treachery ever happened. A quiet and tireless but inflexibly self-effacing mule yoked to the shepherd by the weight of their mutual secrets.

He found one in Sim Fubara. A dutiful young man who could sit for weeks without flinching if it pleased his master. A man with a single-minded, uncritical loyalty and the restraint required for political celibacy. But it appears Wike didn’t test Sim’s elastic limits for humiliation under gubernatorial temperature and pressure. Had Wike looked for a lazy plastic puppet rather than a domesticated and self-abasing donkey, he might have avoided trouble. Evidently, Sim Fubara is not Ododo.

Though Ododo’s mechanics haven’t been thoroughly tested, he has shown a metallic obduracy. Yahaya Bello’s spectacular failure to secure a federal appointment despite his restlessness on the eve of the election and boisterous appropriation of the head-boyship of the youths, Ododo hasn’t had any room for a malfunction. The failure of Bello to secure a face-saving and perhaps self-preservative political job in Abuja has left in Kogi babysitting his lackey. With the puppeteer perpetually pulsating in the presidential lodge in Lokoja, watching the puppet with bleary eyes for signs of waywardness or malfunction and tugging at the strings with temper and whim, Ododo is denied discretion, and his plight is pitiable. To heap blame on Ododo for creating the Office of the Former Governor in the Government House is to underestimate his suffocating predicament.

A modern puppet might prefer to be remotely controlled. It might be softer on the bones. But with Bello next door and Ododo exposed to the direct impacts of his imperiousness, whims and caprices, Ododo can’t be morally culpable for his thoughtlessness. Imagine Wike, idle and irritable, bleeding political relevance, living every day in the Govt House in Port Harcourt, running an Office of Former Governor from the Governor’s Office. Unthinkable. Sim Fubara might have resigned. Ododo will find more rest if he would allow Bello to do ventriloquy, to do all the talking, so that nobody is deceived by his occasional tough-talk to mistake him for a charlatan rather than what he is.

Unlike Ododo, who has told the public that Yahaya Bello has the final say and if he contradicts Bello that he, the governor, should be disregarded, Sim Fubara has announced his independence in words and deed. Wike might have even scored Fubara high for his ability to take slaps and humiliation from a drunken man. But evidently, he forgot to test Fubara’s capacity to switch loyalty to revulsion if pushed to seek healing for his wounded conscience with the balm of truth and populism. When Sim said enough was enough, and his master attempted to drag him away by the impeachment leash into oblivion, he decided to kick his oga’s ass. Now, he has left his boss restless, holding incoherent media chats after egotistic media chats, in vain attempts to convince the public that loyalty, even if it amounted to a criminal conspiracy to perpetrate state capture, was still a virtue.

Bello is a genius. He knew the EFCC was after him. After all, in 2023, they had charged his wife, alongside his nephew and aides, for partaking in a money laundering scheme. In 2022, the EFCC said that they discovered that Bello took state funds and alleged that he handed them to a BDC guy to convert to dollars . Then he paid it to an American school in Abuja. Nobody knows exactly how many children Bello has in the school and if he harbours any ambition to be a father of many nations.

But he paid about 900,000 dollars in advance fees for children yet to be admitted, according to EFCC. The school received the money and kept it. Perhaps the idea was that they would keep it till Bello produced more children and sent them to the school. When the EFCC traced the illicit journey of the funds to that school, the school deducted all Bello’s children would need as fees till graduation and yet there was about a surplus of 760,000 dollars, which they then begged the EFCC to come and collect.

Bello, like Wike, is innocent of all the allegations and accusations until found guilty by a competent court of law. But Ododo has done a few spectacular things to establish Yahaya Bello’s innocence. Once he assumed office, Ododo told the world that he was a professional accountant in the mould of Asiwaju Tinubu. Then, he declared that no money was missing from the Kogi treasury. That announcement was a blanket exoneration of not just Yahaya Bello but any other persons who might have been alleged to have stolen from the Kogi treasury in the last eight years. Auditors are usually circumspect, but Ododo’s bullish announcement was expected. A puppet has no mind of its own. Hearing Ododo parrot what Bello had said when the EFCC accused him of stealing was reassuring. The puppet was functioning optimally.

Those who had said that an ‘olodo’ would have been a little better for Kogi are now having the last laugh. Last week, the EFCC traced the elusive fugitive Bello to a house on the Benghazi Street in Abuja. Bello should have avoided Benghazi. Benghazi is a symbol of resistance against demi-gods. Though Bello isn’t yet a Gadaffi, he should have drawn the parallel and regarded Benghazi as a bad omen. While Bello was surrounded, Ododo ran to the Benghazi Street with armed security agents. The thugs and security agents shoved the EFCC aside with shots fired into the air and whisked away Bello. With that singular act of death-defying daredevilry, Ododo has surpassed previous local limits of political puppetry. Being ready to confront federal law enforcement at noon, braving a brazen transgression of all boundaries of civility and morality, and breaching the presidential security precinct wantonly to enact audacious self-help is the stuff of inanimate courage.
While Ododo was rescuing and deodorizing Bello, Fubara was continuing his journey of self-rediscovery and preparing for an imminent political circumcision. While Ododo was fabricating garlands of integrity for Bello, Fubara was dismantling his master’s structures of infamy and telling the world that Wike lacked ‘intigrity’. Wike might forgive Fubara for his disloyalty, but he might not forgive Fubara for declaring him destitute of ‘intigrity’, the very quantity Wike invented to measure his political opponents and label them worthless. For Wike, the father of INTIGRITY and character, Fubara’s declaration feels like a negative political paternity DNA test, reducing a loquacious patriarch to an impotent impostor in his castle.

Wike must be filled with regrets. Now, Sim Fubara has tasted personal autonomy and mended fences with the people. Ododo is still what he is. He needs a transcendental transmutation. Until the improbable happens, Yahaya Bello is the genius and Nigeria, the butt of jokes.


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