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Osinbajo: Between columnist and calumny

In logic, “argumentum ad ignorantiam” describes a deficit in reasoning whereby an argument is based on sheer ignorance. It is the most hilarious slip to…

In logic, “argumentum ad ignorantiam” describes a deficit in reasoning whereby an argument is based on sheer ignorance.

It is the most hilarious slip to make in a debate.

To now add this to the error of “precipio principii” (winding, meaningless argument) committed blissfully by Ms. Abimbola Adelakun is a big tragedy indeed.

Writing in her column in The Punch of Thursday (July 16), Ms. Adelakun threw caution to the winds in what appeared a premeditated mission of malice, to malign the character and sully the widely acknowledged integrity of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The piece at issue was entitled “Osinbajo: Beyond the nostrum”.

Reading through her mosaic of contradictions, conjectures, innuendoes and silly lies, one would be exceedingly charitable to summarize her exertion as an exercise in self-ridicule.

To be sure, let me declare my interest.

I am not Professor Osinbajo’s publicist or APC partisan.

As a proud logician, my motive is the fidelity to facts and the sanctity of academic inquiry, particularly if one has more than a casual understanding of the issues at stake in the past four years.

As we say in logic, a valid argument is made only when the premises add up to the conclusion.

But in Adelakun’s article, it was quite evident that she resorted to fishing for planks, however wonky or rickety, to prop her hatchet job against Osinbajo with so much virulence that, were she a male, some might have even been tempted to wonder whether the professor of law had at some point snatched his wife.

Against the backdrop of the recent slanderous report by a self-styled blogger that Ibrahim Magu, the embattled chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), gave a N4bn bribe to the Vice President from what he was accused of “chopping”, Ms. Adelakun was at her equivocatory best.

Hear her: “That story about Magu allegedly giving Osinbajo N4bn out of N39bn does not seem credible; its lack of substance made it look like gossip.”

For clarity, records show that the accuser has a long history of blackmail and utter fabrications.

A mercenary without scruple, he once attempted to extort a senior member of the same PDP administration that hired him for dirty online jobs.

When the blackmail scheme against the then sitting Finance Minister, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, failed and a court judgement was secured against him in 2014, he fled the country to a safe haven in the United States.

But a determined hatchet writer would not be deterred by such track-record as hint of another sinister agenda against Professor Osinbajo.

Despite establishing the talebearer’s soiled credential as an unlikely witness of truth, Adelakun’s subsequent submissions only leave the impression that, regardless, she derives an almost sick pleasure from seeing that an innocent man she doesn’t like is lied against and embarrassed.

Of course, only an unstable mind argues that way.

In her desperation to execute her hatchet job against the Vice President, Adelakun would even seek to inflict a wound deeper than what the fugitive liar did.

When facts are inadequate fiction becomes useful.

So, she dredged up past reports long discredited as nothing more than “tales by moonlight”.

She alluded to the phantom N90bn from Tunde Fowler to the Vice President on the eve of the 2019 polls.

But note, while that apocryphal tale trended in beer parlors last year, the purveyors failed to explain how such huge sum was delivered – in Naira or dollars?

Not done, she dug up the other fairy tale of NEMA N5.8bn against the Vice President – an allegation the House of Reps had already looked into and dismissed categorically as baseless.

You would have thought that a sincere inquirer would have, at least, done some independent investigation of these matters.

That is none of the business of this literary “loose canon”.

The objective is to subtly paint everyone with the same brush and cover real corruption.

Otherwise, how can anyone still be raising the issue of NEMA where the only comment in the whole report referencing the VP was that he, as acting President, approved payment without National Assembly appropriation.

In other words, Osinbajo’s sin was not more than granting approval, as acting President, while President Muhammadu Buhari was abroad for medical treatment, for emergency relief to the needy in rehabilitation camps in the north-east.

The Vice President was certainly not directly involved in the disbursement of the said relief materials or cash for matter.

In any case, evidence in written and electronic forms had already been tendered publicly by the relevant agencies to explain how the relief materials were shared to the displaced Nigerians in their hour of need.

So, the allegation or insinuation of any impropriety against the Vice President has since been shown to be completely false.

Yet, these are the sorts of cadavers Adelakun chose to exhume so meticulously to support her obsessive thesis against Osinbajo’s integrity!

Worse still, in Adelakun’s own odd moral universe, victims of media slander like Osinbajo do not have the right to either weep or seek redress.

Which explains why the writer, in another breadth, queried why the Vice President asked the Inspector General of Police to investigate the latest N4bn allegation against his person.

Pray, what else should the man whose hard-earned reputation had been called to question, done under the circumstance?

Resort to self-help?

To Adelakun, that such accusation of impropriety could be made against “a professor of law and a pastor of a well-known church” at all is enough proof that the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration has failed.

Nothing could be more simplistic and jejune.

Well, it is true that Professor Osinbajo was vocal in condemning the grand corruption of the past.

But that those accused of pocketing billions of dollars meant to buy arms to fight Boko Haram have not yet found themselves in jail for betraying public trust should not be blamed on the whistle-blowers.

The blame lies largely with the justice system which often finds itself held captive by the same big thieves using their loot.

So, that Adelakun could now turn around to lampoon and ridicule those who found courage to raise the red flag tells us how low we have sunk in terms of our sense of right and wrong.

It demonstrates so very clearly why fighting corruption in Nigeria will always be a difficult undertaking.

Her writing was certainly a victory lap for those who are upset that the past corruption was unearthed and the fight continues today.

When a good man’s name is attacked, should we all keep quiet?

You seem to have forgotten that the same Osinbajo, when asked to investigate the former DGNIA and SGF, did so painstakingly and the government acted on the report.

At least, both men have since been charged to court.

It appears that there is no amount of blood that will satisfy Adelakun once for one reason or the other she had her sights set on undermining a particular person.

Again, in speaking about the so-called 3 billion dollar scheme (for which one of the culprits is on trial and the other two who are at large have had local and international assets seized and an extradition processes are in place), Adelakun’s conclusion is still the same – coated as it were in all pseudo thoughtful language.

It is Karma for the man who dared speak up against corruption!

How else can you verify the 15 billion dollar defense scam other than following a government report through which two service chiefs have had assets seized and a former security chief is on trial?

In the final analysis, the faulty logic discernible in Adelakun’s argument is a big disgrace for someone offered a platform by a widely read national daily.

But, to me, the bigger tragedy is the danger posed to the national quest to fight corruption inadvertently through such malicious dispensing of disinformation or sweeping generalization.

True, fighting endemic corruption is an Herculean task.

It is never a piece of cake even in western world with stronger state institutions, much less in the third world where strongmen tend to out-muscle weak state institutions.

Across jurisdictions and continents, the ultimate challenge is, therefore, the same: how can corruption be tracked, wrestled down and rooted out with minimal collateral damage to the social fabric?

And more fundamentally, how can this moral enterprise be sustained in a manner attractive of public ownership?

Of course, there cannot be quick or ready answer to the foregoing powers.

But while the search for solutions continues, let it however be stated that the intellectual lynch-mob culture promoted by the likes of Adelakun – the malicious enthusiasm to downplay even the little victories already secured on the difficult journey and malign those who have never been found wanting – cannot in any way encourage or inspire the few patriots who choose to stick to the frontline of the anti-corruption battle, not for self but as a mark of commitment to the greater good of the society.

The columnist’s cheap sloganeering and persecution of the truly committed will only cheer hypocrites pretending to be interested in a cleaner society but, in reality, are toiling tooth and nail to undermine the integrity of true champions of the anti-corruption battle.

They do so by their thinly veiled celebration of rogues and scoundrels.

They know how to sound philosophical in their crass support for brigandage and corruption.

But I like to end with a word of encouragement for the likes of Osinbajo still keeping the faith: do not be discouraged or distracted by the ranting of the naysayers.

Dr. Ibidapo wrote from University of Ibadan, Oyo State.