Beyond Oghiadomhe's resignation - National Mirror

By The Citizen

Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, Chief of Staff (COS) to President GoodLuck Jonathan, lost his job recently. The news came as a shock to most Nigerians as there were no indications that such a high and strategic staff in the Presidency would vacate his office that way. Oghiadomhe has been working with President Jonathan since 2007 when he was then Vice President in the tenure of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. This will, perhaps, assist in explaining the several speculations, from the possible to the most bizarre, which have been trailing the unceremonious exit of the COS from his high office. But flying in the face of it all was the intervention of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, who volunteered official reasons almost immediately Oghiadomhe's purported resignation was made public.

Abati said the former COS was not sacked, but resigned his appointment to pursue further personal political ambitions. According to him, Oghiadomhe's action was in compliance with a presidential directive that all political appointees having political ambition should disengage from the government so as not to distract the administration from its transformation agenda. The President, on his return from Ethiopia about two weeks ago, 'had announced in the 'Council' that if there was any member of the cabinet or any major political appointee who wanted to pursue some political endeavours… that if such people were going to be engaged heavily in political activities, they should let him know, and if they saw they were going to be really busy, that it would occupy their time, ordinarily then they should please step aside or let him know or they should come and see him for discussion'', the presidential spokesman said. However, the official side of the report seems unimpressive. Many are still scarcely convinced.

Indeed, contrary to the explanation of Mr. President's spokesman, it was being suggested that the COS was forced out of office because of some wrong doings, which are already in the public domain. Hence the pervasive public feeling that the official reasons being marketed for the sudden exit should be taken with a pinch of salt. It is not all the time that a nation is confronted with the spectre of such unusualness at the top echelon of government. The rumour mill bustle when governance is conducted with opacity, as has been the character of the Jonathan administration to a great extent. Therefore, if Oghiadomhe in any way compromised his high office as is being currently speculated, he should be handed over to the appropriate authorities and agencies for thorough investigation. A nation that prides itself as a democracy should be characterised by openness and the rule of law; and law ideally is no respecter of persons, no matter how highly placed.

The impressions that have gained ground are that the nation's laws, particularly criminal laws, are meant only for the poor and the less privileged. When the 'high and the mighty' affront the law, there are frantic efforts to explain away their felonies. This has been a major misfortune that has made it impossible for a nation so scourged by high profile crimes, like Nigeria, to record any major breakthrough in its purported fight against corruption as yet. In the more advanced democracies Nigerian leaders ape whenever it pleases them, such as United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and others, laws are no respecter of anybody. Once a culprit gets caught on the wrong side of the law, justice is allowed to take its course, unhindered. In the UK, for instance, the Immigration Minister, Mark Harper, recently resigned from government when it became apparent that his cleaner did not have permission to work in the UK; even when it was not so obvious that he knowingly employed an illegal immigrant.

In Nigeria, such would have been dismissed as insignificant. But the matter was made open, in spite of the high position of the officer involved. The government should at all times insist on openness and let the public know all the truth about the goings on, to avoid dangerous rumour mongering. Only a government that respects the right of