Ebuka Obi-Uchendu: “We are all guilty, allegedly” (YNaija Frontpage)

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu

…what we discovered last week was that the DG of the SEC has allegedly been eating quite a lot.

‘Arunma’ literally means ‘good body’ in Igbo.

With the sort of buzz Ms Arunma Oteh got on social media, when she was newly appointed as the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was obvious that she was aptly named. She got a lot of attention for her physical attributes; probably even much more than for her excellent resume. I’ve met her a few times, the most recent being at a wedding where her height and command of the English language left me in awe.

She seemed like one of those who would be in government, do their job and quietly retire back to some teaching job in a university. That was until last week when the House of Representatives opened a new episode in their never-ending series of ‘Hey, look Nigerians, we are great at draining your soakaways while we forget to flush our toilets’. Yeah, that is a really long title I know. Probably reflective of how long the National Assembly has been setting up probe committee after probe committee with almost no tangible result.

“Why do we live in a country where government officials
know other people in government who ask for bribe and condone it;
until they get caught in a fix themselves?
Arunma Oteh

Anyway without all the tough English to boot, what we discovered last week was that the DG of the SEC has allegedly been eating quite a lot. She ate as much as N850, 000 at once. To put it in perspective, buffet per head at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Victoria Island, probably the newest ‘posh’ hotel on the block, costs roughly N6000. So basically, ‘Aunty Good Body’ allegedly ate for about 141 people. That’s more than the number of Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by a mile. She also allegedly collected rent illegally on government property.

We also found out that the House Committee Chairman on Capital Markets, Herman Hembe (I actually like his name) allegedly asked the SEC DG for a N44million bribe and decided to investigate her office when she refused. This, coming way after they had allegedly collected funds to travel abroad without eventually doing so. Basically, the D’Banj and Don Jazzy split has nothing on the House drama that was broadcast live on TV. Too bad if you missed it all.

The bitter payback game is as entrenched in our system as is corruption. President Obasanjo allegedly crushes his Vice President’s dream of becoming President for ‘disloyalty’. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu allegedly arrests only people who have stepped on the President’s toes. The Senate allegedly unseats its president for not sharing committees favourably to the big boys. President Jonathan allegedly unseats the governor of his home state for not being in his camp. The list is endless. It is almost as if no one decides to act until they have been burnt.

Why do we live in a country where government officials know other people in government who ask for bribe and condone it; until they get caught in a fix themselves? Why do we have a House of Representatives who have nothing against government extravagance until they ask for their share and don’t get a piece of the pie? The doctrine of coming to equity with clean hands doesn’t exist in these parts. Equity probably took off a long time ago as the poor thing was tired of seeing hands dirtier than the waterways in Makoko! What bothers me the most is how these probe panels all end up. Now that it seems like both sides to this investigation are burnt, sitting will become few and far between until we hear little or nothing of them.

We live in a very unique country and many have argued that Ms Oteh could not have picked a better time to spill the beans. But the problem still remains that we would never have known of these allegations on Hon. Herman Hembe if she hadn’t been so blatantly accused of foul play. Sadly, it is these small acts that show us up for our disregard for doing right. It is not until a James Ibori steals your grandfather and his coffin that it should become a national embarrassment? ‘Dem say na from handshake woman dey carry belle.’ You can’t expect to keep fighting the big fight when the small acts of corruption continue to slide through.

 It would be great to see how this probe ends and who gets to be punished after all of it. It would be even greater to see that Nigerians get to draw important lessons from the entire episode. Most importantly, as much as we like people in government having good bodies, a good heart and good intentions are all we ask for. I believe we are due some of that already. Did I hear you say Goodluck with that?

Leave a reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.

Comments (16)

  1. * lack cohesion* well well well, look at who thinks i should retake my o'level exams, when you don't even have a firm grasp of subject-verb agreement. My comments were directed at some of the earlier comments and this excerpt in particular "But the problem still remains that we would never have known of these allegations on Hon. Herman Hembe if she hadn’t been so blatantly accused of foul play. Sadly, it is these small acts that show us up for our disregard for doing right"

    i don't see alleged in those sentences. i shall not deign to petty insults as you who should be more matured than me has.

  2. @Kaelo: Your comment is so shabby and lack cohesion. Seems you don't even have a clue of what Ebuka's point is. So you had better go back and retake your O' level subjects, especially in English Language. Then you can be baptised, both in spirit, with what "alleged" means. At 17, as you have claimed, I shake my head for you. Besides, it Ms Oteh and not Mrs.

  3. In summary

    first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's ( in this case sister's) eye."

    Matthew 7:1-5 (Also Luke 6:41-42)

  4. This is the problem with Nigeria we Swallow everything hook line and sinker, lets not forget these are just allegations from the most dishonorable set of people world over, yet you see people ferociously supporting the reps who we all know never do anything except in their interest. you should see she has formed a stumbling block for some of their sinister motives. As for me the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    i am just 17 and i shouldn't feel such pure contempt and hatred for those who are meant to represent me but unfortunately i do. thought there are some exceptions ( abike dabiri et al)

  5. After Mrs oteh condescended deigned to respond to that house of thieves they want to drag her impeccable pedigree through the mud. how can anyone who is in possession of all their thinking faculties, for one second take the word of those unscrupulous, dishonorable, unprincipled, unethical, amoral, untrustworthy, venal, underhanded, double-dealing, fraudulent, bribable, criminal,and illiterate plunderers over hers….

    And besides the public hearing is to determine what caused the capital market to crash before she even became DG is it the housing allowance that she took or the alleged 850k for "FoOd" even an insane being would know that it is illogical

  6. Because you sit in your homes and write you should put your self in the position of Mrs oteh. when your in government you don't just go about stepping on unnecessary toes, the issues of the travel expenses could not exactly pin dishonorable hembe down for good, he would have just made a flimsy excuse that there were some bottlenecks in getting the money back to the SEC and knowing Nigeria anything goes, she would have just added to the numerous enemies she already has who are probably instrumental to this probe. you can't just go commando calling up any slight issue of misappropriation you see you have to be tactical and calculated.

    As to why Mrs Oteh decided to let the cat out of the bag at this time, she made it clear that it was because she doubted the competency of the panel and it's chairman to give her a fair and equitable trial due to her earlier squabble with them.

  7. Dude, nice write up…but i think you should have gotten your facts straight before publishing so as not to complicate an already very complicated situation. Firstly, the SEC released a statement to clarify that the amount in question was not N850,000.00 but N85,000.00. Secondly, any right thinking person should be able to put one and two together without being told that the dinner in question could not have been eaten by one person, when you are lodged at the Hilton and you entertain guests for the dinner, the bill would usually say "Dinner" and not "Dinner for 15". Thirdly, is it not funny that the best the house members could come up with was money charged for dinner? so, say for example that you are the DG SEC and you decide to "chop" is that how you would go about it? by inflating you dinner bill? come on, man! Fourthly, the question of waiting till you get burnt before telling the world that you were asked for a bribe does not play here, read the news again, the members asked for funds to support the hearing and it was "politely" declined, what else do you want? they didn't say give me money so we can swing the hearing in your favor, it wasn't outright bribe asking like the El'rufai case with some senators who said outrightly give me money and we will confirm you as minister. Lastly, personally i'd rather Arunmah 'chop' all she can not just for the mere fact that she is as 'hot' as ever but for the fact that she actually gets work done unlike those bunch of clowns in the House that think they all have a divine right to build mansions in maitama.

    1. On your first point, I guess that's why the word 'allegedly' was put there before I stated the amount. Besides, why is it fair to take the SEC's press conference/clarification as fact when the case isn't resolved?

      On your second point, I would have thought that my sarcasm with the amount of food eaten was pretty clear.

      On your fourth point, Ms. Oteh stated that the Committee Chairman got paid a travel allowance for a trip to the Dominican Republic, which he ended up not going for. That didn't just happen. Neither is it related in anyway to the hearing. So why did we not hear abput it since?

  8. Hahaha! Really? And how many did you count?

  9. The sad part of this story for me is her accusing Hembe only cos she's being probed. Its wrong. Why didn't she cry foul when the incident happened? Also, being lodged at the Hilton for ten months reeks of extravagance… They just never learn. Soiling all the good names they had before they accepted various offices… The cock must always come home to roost.

  10. @Iknowthisforreal, you are a busy body. Who sent you? Where you there when they had the dinner???? Don't be a Judge for what you cant defend!!

  11. Ebuka, it is sad that the Arunma Oteh side of the story is not out there yet. In actual fact, I am sad that Nigerians are so easily sold on these stories.

    Here is what happened: On March 24, Ms Oteh as DG of SEC hosted a group of guests from a foreign sister regulatory agency. They were in Nigeria to discuss technical assistance to the SEC NIgeria. Ms Oteh took her job only on January 7, 2010, two months earlier. The dinner cost N83,400, and was charged to Ms Oteh's room.

    On all other days while at the Hilton, Ms Oteh in fact had average food bills of a regular Nigerian, nothing close to N80,000 at all!!!!!! It is a big lie that has been peddled by compromised members of the House Committee hired by persons Ms Oteh hurt as she started cleansing the market.

  12. ……and the list is endless, when you decides to take a statistics of their bitter payback game. One wonders whe we will get it right in Nigeria, for once.

    God will continue crowning the efforts of the few good people of Nigeria with "good intentions" till we see them break the barriers and lead us to the promised land.

  13. Good body indeed. Give us good leaders who can stay at least 70% true to their oath of office and we are good to go. After some moments of noise making,all these will die down and everybody will move on,while the culprits resurface sometime later as heroes and heroines. Nigeria shall be great. Thanks Ebuka,I love your style of writing,and the witty architecture of words. 🙂

  14. I love Arunma Oteh too. I hope she comes out on top here. Those silly rep members never have anything good coming out of them.

    M'while, I tried to count how many times you used allegedly lol

  15. well done ebuka. glad ur back. missed you on thisday.

    as for this articel, i think those in govt have some code of silence not to talk about other people choppin as long as they dont take from ur plate. sad. our way still far

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail