Magu’s next level, EFCC and Garba Shehu’s idiosyncratic rhetoric
By Abdu Abdullahi
Abruptly, the national atmosphere became fully saturated with the brief but momentous euphoria that greeted Malam Ibrahim Magu’s eventful suspension as the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
The vicissitudes of time have done it again in a perplexing manner.
The great hunter is now the hunted. The chief prosecutor is now the accused. The commander-in-chief of the crusade against corruption is suspected to be hoarding a large skeleton in his cupboard until proved otherwise. Surely, it is now being assumed that all this time, Magu was throwing stones while dwelling in a glass house.
The bombshell that Magu’s saga releases will for long generate keen interests. It will continue to unlock the unbelievable. It will marvel at unraveling some raised shocks. It will definitely define the future of the EFCC and of course, it will unmask the dynamics of influences and assertions of powerful elements within the corridors of power.
The story of Magu’s adventure in his fight against corruption was about four years old before meeting its tragic end. Forever, we shall never forget it owing to its everlasting and fundamental lessons.
In the Chinese literature, Magu is a description of a beautiful young woman with long birdlike fingernails. Like the Chinese Magu, Nigeria’s Magu was at one time very attractive to the Presidency when it was fanatical of him to deliver us from the notorious corruption.
But unlike the Chinese Magu, the attraction of our Magu is now a damaging thing of the past. What is still fresh in our sound memory was that unflinching and indomitable faith in Magu demonstrated by the Buhari administration.
When the Department of State Security (DSS) came to the rescue, fully armed to untie the knot of that accidental affection and save the government foreseen and future embarrassment, it was blatantly ignored. But at the credibility level of the government, the worst had happened.
If it had arrived at the popular option of that intelligence report and denounced Magu, it would have tallied with national interest and popular will.
Too bad, the very government that saw nothing bad in Magu has now refuted itself, disowned him in his totality, announcing to the world that after all, Magu is now a false attraction, mischievous and questionable character.
Accordingly, the Presidency is currently and deeply disenchanted as well as disappointed, recounting the credibility loss it has suffered and how to revitalize it. The crisis of loss of credibility is indeed devastating and colossal.
The government is still displeased and remorseful that Magu was a fake drug for corruption treatment and misleading concept for fighting it. It is embarrassed by its own self-designed inconsistencies.
While the nation was observing this reflective mood, then entered Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Assistant to the President on Media.
Of course, Garba Shehu had a great role to play in that suspense laden drama. He opted for transmitting a word of optimism to cushion the adverse effects of our pessimism. He seized the issue of the moment to brainstorm us with press release, to curse the ‘sinful’ Magu, to sing another beautiful song for the government and to devise a diversionary rhetoric that would make us forget the atrocities of the brutish bandits.
Excited by the Magu Gate brouhaha, he came with a new kind of message that was hugely and organically idiosyncratic. It was partly a threat to those who would not part ways with corruption.
He wanted to make it a formidable message, a message for the Magus in their profoundly nefarious activities. Garba Shehu’s major task was to brainwash our psychology that with the clampdown on Magu, corruption was defeated and Buhari had won the battle. But unknown to him, that was another beginning of the holy war against corruption.
But in his usual and flamboyant communication efforts to empower the government with public confidence, somewhere and somehow, he missed the link between content and context.
He was rushing to reach us with a breaking message, forgetting the essence of mutual and symbiotic relationships between content and context for effective communication to drive home his cogent point.
To draw a typical example from his latest press release, a portion reads: “We must realise that the fight against corruption is not a static event but a dynamic and ever evolving process in which the EFCC is just one actor.”
When Shehu decided to employ the modifiers static and dynamic to perform wonders for him and earn him the exalted pleasure of the powers that be, he only aggravated matters. The central idea was contextually misplaced, rendering the communication dysfunctional.
Malam Shehu and the rest of us know the modus operandi of the EFCC’s fight against corruption. It has always been the same, monotonous and uninspiring without innovations.
If Malam Shehu still insists that the battle against corruption has been dynamic, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo expressed a contrary view, a view that can never be challenged except, perhaps, Malam Garba Shehu.
In a lecture themed: ‘Combating Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows: New Measures and Strategies,’ he (Vice President) emphasized: “We must democratize the fight against corruption. Many of our citizens are interested in the fight against grand corruption. Grand corruption as you know cripples the economy.
“But they also want to see action in what would be regarded as petty corruption – in their interfaces with government officials either in the search for certifications, approvals of any kind, licenses, and all of that.
“Many want to see that corruption at that level is tackled effectively. And I think that we must begin to look at innovative ways of doing that.”
This critical observation by the Professor of Law is particularly a case of study for Malam Shehu to always do thorough homework and carry out painstaking operations before his communication is made public.
For our collective survival, this is the best time for the Shehus to start reflecting on how the EFCC should be dynamic to meet the rising challenges of corruption. It will serve him well if he admits that the fight against corruption is undoubtedly static and not dynamic.
He should be realistic that it needs urgent restructuring and enlargement. It requires modern operations. It must be financially strong. It must get rid itself of political interference and so on and so forth.
In Shehu’s latest communication as in others before, it was more towards pleasure derivation, unconscious of the implications. Kindly, refer to the full text of the press statement. It mainly portrayed the aesthetic values and downgraded the communication potency, value and function.
In the celebrated Mahatma Gandhi’s “Seven Deadly Sins,” he cautioned us about “Pleasure without Conscience.” And for the consequence of dispelling conscious when pleasure controls us, Gandhi had this to say:
“The ultimate costs of pleasures without conscience are high as measured in terms of time and money, in terms of reputation and in terms of wounding the hearts and minds of other people who are adversely affected by those who just want to indulge and gratify themselves in the short term.” Thus, unknown to Shehu, he was seriously sacrificing his reputation for short term benefits. He was promoting pleasure over communication, injuring the discerning hearts that believed in realities.
His professional colleagues in the media industry have always been badly affected by his desperate bid for self gratifications. They persistently accuse him of not reflecting on the fact that he was one time occupying the exalted position of the president of the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE). It is for this reason that they want and desire for him a soft landing.
Don’t forget that Garba Shehu was also quoted as telling us that: “If not for Muhammad Buhari’s administration, Boko Haram would have taken over Aso Rock in 2015.” To paraphrase this cheap communication element, he was as well telling us that Shekau might have taken the country’s mantle of leadership!
How would that have been possible? Borno State is the origin and stronghold of Boko Haram. For all those years, they could not over take the state government house. But only Malam Garba Shehu, out of millions, saw the possibility of Boko Haram invading and sacking the secular Aso Rock.
The trouble with Garba Shehu’s communication is that whenever he speaks on behalf of the power house, he dismisses the socio-cultural implications of exaggerated statements.
If Malam Shehu wants to please his master on matters of boosting his governmental image, he should not succumb to that at the expense of his socio-cultural background and ethoes.
He should not forget that his linguistic characteristics will be broadly judged from the angle of the ethnic group he belongs to. He should spare us damnations such as “what is this Hausa man saying?”
To get the point clearer, his socio-cultural constituency is greater than the Aso Rock constituency and it is morally incumbent on him to preserve it.
But in Shehu’s communication philosophy and shenanigans, the best way to treat us is to abuse and joke with our commonsense, plunder the mutual relationship between content and context.
It is imperative for Garba to follow the suit of his colleague, Femi Adesina. This gentleman has been diligent with his words. He has been conscious with his linguistic values not to tamper with them for self aggrandizement. He has been moderate and often infrequent in his public communications to avoid blunders.
He maintains systematic periods of silence. He has never enjoyed faith in exaggerated communication for the benefit of pleasure, for that will not augur well for him. He is relatively safe as he is not bombarded with criticisms like Malam Garba Shehu.
Indeed, the Magu’s episode will go down in history as one of the best moments for Garba Shehu because it provided him the opportunity to mischievously rewrite history and its tremendous lessons.
Hear him again: “No other administration in the history of Nigeria would have moved to bring into light and public domain such an allegation.”
But it is also a great history that the late Murtala Ramat Muhammed was the first warrior that brought into public domain the dangers of corruption at its embryonic stage. He gave it the toughest battle in the history of the fight against corruption in the country.
The huge successes he recorded are still very fresh in our memory including that of Malam Shehu. Has Malam Shehu forgotten the Tafa Balogun fast moving thriller corruption drama of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s era?
To sum it up, it is tribulations for Magu, reflections on the future of the EFCC and of course, a reminder to Malam Garba Shehu to communicate with extreme caution.
Abdullahi wrote in from Galadanci Quarters, Ringim, Jigawa State and he can be reached via 07036207998 or email@example.com.