On Monday, July 6, 2020, Ibrahim Magu woke up, took his bath, knotted one of his many fancy ties and dressed up in his usual western suit and set out on the streets of Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. If anyone had told him as he was leaving home that someone born of a woman would have the audacity to block his convoy and order him to change his direction, I am almost certain that Ibrahim Magu would have laughed in the person’s face and probably told the person that he was drinking a very bad variant of ‘ogogoro’.
When Magu woke up that Monday morning, he was one of the most powerful men in Nigeria. Everyone, big or small, trembled at the mention of his name. He could order the arrest of anyone, detain anyone and using the enormous instruments under his control, send anyone to jail. After all, he was the Head of EFCC, the Czar of President Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, the fulcrum of Buhari’s presidency.
Ibrahim Magu was powerful, so powerful. The Nigerian senate which has the constitutional powers to confirm or reject his appointment as Chairman of EFCC, twice refused to confirm him but it did not matter. Magu became bigger than the constitution and for five years, based on some twisted logic, bestrode the nation as “Acting Chairman” of the EFCC!
On July 6, 2020, in a commando style, Ibrahim Magu was waylaid on his way from the EFCC Formella Street office in Abuja, and forced to go to Aso Rock Villa, to face a previously unknown presidential panel set up to investigate Magu’s tenure and an alleged massive ‘magu-magu’ in the EFCC. In a twist of fate, the hunter became the hunted.
Magu who was reported to live in luxury in a house rented in the incredible sum of N40m and furnished with N43m is said to have spent the night of his arrest sleeping on bare chairs at the Louis Edet Police Headquarters in Abuja.
In the morning of July 6, Magu was a powerful man. In the evening, he was a powerless man. Those who gave Magu the power had taken it.
At the beginning of June 2020, Adams Oshiomhole was one of the most powerful political players in the land. The former governor of Edo State and former President of the Nigerian Labour Congress wielded power with no apologies to anyone. Upon his election as Chairman of the ruling APC, Oshiomhole was reported to have warned a minister of the Federal Republic that if President Buhari would tolerate the minister’s indiscretion, he, Adams Oshiomhole would not take the nonsense. For most people in the APC, the fear of Oshiomhole was the beginning of wisdom.
Uche Nwosu, son-in-law of former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, will not forget Adams Oshiomhole in a hurry. Together, they danced and made merry at Dan Anyiam Stadium Owerri when Oshiomhole visited Imo State. Nwosu was the crown prince of the Okorocha dynasty, waiting to take over as Governor of Imo State. When push came to shove, Oshiomhole out flanked him, pulled the carpet under his feet and the rest, as they say, is now history.
Adams coordinated the plot that brought Buhari back as President at a time when Atiku Abubakar was seriously flexing his muscles. On every APC campaign stage across Nigeria, Oshiomhole, not the tallest of men, jumped higher than everyone else and spoke louder than everyone else.
In the normal order of things, Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of APC would never have considered Stephen Oshawo, Chairman of the APC Etsako Ward 10 in Edo State as a powerful man. But when it was time to cut Adams Oshiomhole to size, the real powers that be did not go to the Supreme Court, they went to Oshiomhole’s ward and got his ward Chairman to suspend him.
In the normal order of things, if Adams Oshiomhole was looking behind for who would pull the carpet off his feet, he may have worried about the APC Deputy Chairmen or the Vice Chairman. I doubt that it would have occurred to him that it would be Victor Giadom, a little-known Assistant Secretary of his party that would be used to mess him up so badly.
In the normal order of things, Adams Oshiomhole, the sharp player on the political chess board would never have envisioned that the rules enshrined in the APC constitution would be so badly thrown to the dogs and that an APC National Executive Council Meeting would be held with two days-notice at the Aso Rock Villa at the instance of the said Assistant Secretary and the very powerful Adams Oshiomhole would be so emasculated in the public glare.
If we are sensitive about Nigerian history, we should understand that what has happened to the two men mentioned above can happen to any of us whether in the church, the mosque, the market group, a social club, a professional association or on the national stage. Let everyone be careful. Power is ephemeral and transient. It can disappear in a twinkle of an eye.
In my time, I have met a lot of small men intoxicated by power. They think that the power they wield belongs to them without realizing that the power belongs to the office they occupy, the uniform they wear or the chair they sit on. Many understand power to mean the ability to punish or subjugate others rather than the ability to uplift and put a smile on the faces of as many of God’s children as possible. Will we ever understand the vanity of power? I don’t know.