A man named haman
Monday, April 09,  2012

I love parallels. Anyone with a modicum of mathematical sense appreciates their value. The grandest goal of all science is to provide irrefutable proof; putting all queries beyond doubt. So establishing a valid parallel is only one step away from a ‘quod erat demonstrandum,’-QED. Analysts of all shades, interlocutors and prognosticators all lean heavily on them.

Parallels are precursors to watertight deductions. The idea of a parallel presupposes the presence of at least two elements where the known qualities of one are applied to the others. If you called it comparison, you would be perfectly right. It is like using the facts of a fixed scenario “A” to make deductions about an emerging scenario “B.”

Here is scenario “A.”
In the ancient kingdom of Media and Persia lived a great king named Ahasuerus. Being the dominant world power at the time, it had over one hundred and twenty seven provinces stretching from Asia to Africa. As is characteristic of a powerful potentate of a vast domain, Ahasuerus was surrounded by men who craved power and the wealth and influence it guaranteed. One of such men was Haman Hammedatha; a direct descendant an Amalekite king named Agag: a personification of evil. Haman, a power opportunist par excellence represents a type of leadership that exploits the commitment and sacrifice of others to advance their selfish agenda.

A Jewish security guard, Mordecai had reported a plot to assassinate Ahasuerus. After a thorough inquest had established the veracity of the plot, the two co-conspirators were executed. Even though the matter was duly entered into the kingdom records, Haman personally reported it to the king. He did so in a manner that projected him as the hero, while the role of the brave and conscientious Mordecai was predictably left out.

Consequently, all the credit and encomiums were heaped on Haman; earning him an undeserved elevation to the position of chief of the king’s officials. You can trust the sycophantic crowd as they were falling over themselves genuflecting and slobbering after Haman. The scheming Haman was lapping it all up as his ilk are wont to do. Only one thing, though, seemed to threaten his complete sense of fulfilment: Mordecai stayed away from the crowd of praise singers and favour seekers. And this development became an abiding source of irritation to him. Ordinarily, one would have thought Haman would feel a sense of guilt for undercutting Mordecai. But men like Haman are wired differently. Like piranhas, even after defrauding you, they don’t rest until they completely destroy you. The corridors of political power are littered with them.

Haman’s irritation soon degenerates to xenophobia; the active ingredient of genocide. After drafting a document authorizing the extermination of the Jews, he employed chicanery and subterfuge to obtain the king’s imprimatur; exploiting his near unassailable goodwill. But for Mordecai, Haman had devised an even more hideous end: death by the gallows.

While Haman plotted and wangled his way to the top, another chain of parallel events was taking place in the kingdom. The queen, by a bizarre interplay of events, had fallen from favour, and a replacement was urgently demanded. After a rigorous process encompassing all the beautiful damsels from across the provinces, a Jewish girl named Hadassah came tops; stepping in immediately to fill the gaping void in the king and his kingdom. Because he Jewish identity wasn’t common knowledge, she was rather known and called Esther. Queen Esther. Coincidentally, she’d been brought up by the mercurial Mordecai; a fact that was also not known around the palace.

As time drew knew to execute Haman’s diabolical design, Queen Esther was compelled to intervene on behalf of herself and her people, who had proved to be some of the most loyal subjects of the king. In what would very easily rank as an epic between evil and good, Haman’s wicked and duplicitous ways were exposed. In an ironic twist of fate, he was hanged on the very gallows he’d fashioned for Mordecai. And the lowly but dignified Mordecai was promoted to Haman’s very vacant position!

Here is scenario “B.”
I was attracted to the recent House of Representatives-sponsored public hearing on the capital market for purely recreational reasons. Probes, panels and public hearings in Nigeria have become veritable sources of comic relief. From the famed Oputa panel to the Ndudi Elumelu-led power sector probe and Farouk Lawan’s subsidy hearing, these events have become officially sanctioned-circuses. Many man-hours and millions of naira are invested with the attention of the whole nation held hostage. But at the end of the day, nothing-absolutely nothing-comes out of them. Well, maybe not exactly. While the probe managers go home richer, the rest of the nation is kept entertained while it lasts. That’s at least something. But as a tool for fighting corruption and instituting a culture of public probity, these periodic probes have only served as assured means of lining a few pockets.

So when Honourable Herman Hembe and his gang mounted the soap box to begin their show, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. For me, it was going to be a few days of pretending to forget our dire economic situation powered by years of criminal neglect and corruption. I thought to use the light-heartedness of the public hearing to dilute the horrors of the carnage emanating from Aleppo, Damascus and Homs in Al-Assad’s Syria. Or as a legitimate diversion from the nearly daily offering of violence and pain from our own home-grown tumour, Boko Haram.

I need to make a confession here: I love Tivs. I lived in Tivland between 1988 and 1993 and Benue State is a huge part of my history. With the Tiv, what you see is what you get. They aren’t ones for pretence. If you’re needing a die-hard ally, grab a Tiv. If he grabs you back, you have a friend for life. If he doesn’t, don’t wait to find out why. At least that way, you’ll live to tell your story! I know them that well, and yes, I love them so.

So as soon as the chairman of the House Committee on Capital Market and other Institutions uttered a sentence, I knew where he hailed from and what to expect. Forthright, assertive and intrepid were the least I expected. He didn’t disappoint. But there seemed to be a little more. And that bothered me. Hembe seemed shifty and unduly restless, like he was in a hurry to get it over with. His body language betrayed an intention to do a hatchet job. The Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arunma Oteh was in the dock and she was trying really hard to maintain composure. But Hembe kept the brickbats trained at her to the extent of questioning her qualification for the job.

Another confession is fitting at this juncture. I love smartness and those who embody it. And when the repository of smartness turns out to be a pretty lass, the possibilities quadruple. Whatever your preferences, you can’t contend with the fact that Arunma Oteh is one hell of a goodly dame with a fine brain to boot. You don’t hem that kind of woman in and begin to insinuate things. That precisely was what Hembe did on the second day of the hearing. And while he was at it, he made a little comment that was as ill-advised as it was inappropriate. He said his committee was on an ‘inquisition!’ I assumed he meant to say ‘inquest,’ but he may actually have meant to use the word after all he is a lawyer.

I needn’t have bothered because by the third day of the hearing, the proceedings were effectively ‘hijacked.’ Madam DG, reeking indignation, was all over Hembe. After reeling out her ‘powerful’ credentials, she proceeded to pointedly accuse Hembe and his committee of acts bordering on criminality. Apart from the Dominican Republic conference saga, the amount being bandied about hovers in the region of N44 million! In essence, she was questioning the integrity of the chairman and his team and by extension their qualification to fairly carry out their assignment. For good measure, she referred to the public hearing as a kangaroo court!

If Madam DG meant by her well articulated submission to discomfit Hembe and his committee, she succeeded beyond her wildest assumptions. Thank God for the Tiv man. Like I indicated earlier, his style isn’t pretence and subterfuge. From Hembe’s demeanour, it was clear he’d been badly hit. There were a few feeble attempts by some committee members to bolster confidence, but in the end, it was all bluff and bluster. When the hearing adjourned that day, for me, it was adjournment sine die.

In spite of everything I’ve said, I’m sad about the turn of events-the stalemate, that is. It does no good to any of the parties involved and represents a setback to our collective resolve to build strong institutions. To have expended millions for nothing is the sort of colossal waste we can ill afford. The only people who seem to benefit from this sort of impasse are those whose nefarious activities would have been exposed had the process reached logical conclusion. I’ll refrain from making any judgement on this case for the simple reason that the facts are, at best, still sketchy. I have my hunches but I’ll rather keep those to myself for now. But I can’t but make a few observations.

Orji writes from Abuja

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