By Mustafa Jamal
There is a saying in Igarra about the rat. The destructive domestic rodent will rather destroy something beneficial to all if it will not gain from it. The subject of this piece, John Mayaki, should know; first, because he is from Igarra, headquarters of Akoko Edo local government area and, second, because he has been behaving like one of those mousy, furry creatures recently. How is this so?
For all the period he was Chief Press Secretary to Godwin Obaseki, Edo state governor, John Mayaki was, like the humble but discerning servant Jeeves in some of PG Wodehouse’s novels, an intelligent interpreter of his master’s every wish. But once he lost his coveted position, he became a belligerent critic of every act of his former master.
In other words, if he, John Mayaki, were still the CPS to Governor Obaseki today, the people of Edo State and, by extension, Nigerians would have been hearing (on television and radio) and reading (in newspapers, the social media and any other available outlet) the unsolicited praises he used to heap on his former boss only a few years ago. Can you now see, dear people of Edo State, the connection with the rat in his natal town?
As long as there is something for the rodent, as long as its interest is protected, something to nibble or gnaw at, all well and good, but once there is nothing to benefit, it will, by its very nature, destroy what others will profit from.
Let us imagine this scenario, just an assumption, though. John Mayaki gets a call from Chief of Staff to Governor Obaseki, Mr. Taiwo Akerele that the number one citizen in the state wants to reappoint him to his former position or any other plum position, for that matter. Anyone can guess what the former CPS’s response will be.
Of course, his uncouth conduct through his minute-by-minute postings have not gone unnoticed among the youths of Igarra, those at home and in the Diaspora. What is the point of his frequent posts? What is the benefit to people of Igarra, considering that the current COS, Akerele, is from the same place with John Mayaki.
The understanding among many of them is there is not a more excellent example of a turncoat than John Mayaki, a man who will say good things about a benefactor but become suddenly vitriolic once he is out of favour with him. The otherwise promising former CPS, they insist, has become suddenly acerbic in his routine criticism of Governor Obaseki because he no longer enjoys his former perks and privileges. But what he has failed to understand is that the office of CPS or any other in Edo State government is not custom-made for people like John Mayaki. There are thousands of equally competent young men and women in Edo State who can function well as he has done while he was CPS.
Sadly, though, he does not seem to be functioning well these days as a latter-day critic of the state government. You needn’t look too far than one of his pieces entitled “SUBEB: The Chronicles of Godwin Obaseki and His Elephantine Corruption” to see how the chap has seemingly lost it.
Ironically, he begins his piece thus: “Now, I must need to focus on the goal.” The impression you get is of a man setting himself a difficult task and to accomplish it, he has to be clearheaded, “to focus on the goal,” as he himself boasted.
However, right from the next paragraph, you notice that he is not only muddled up in thought but also in his grammar. Hear the born-again crusader for accountability who, to begin with, should be held accountable for his grammatical errors: “Following recent developments of the past week,” the grumpy John Mayaki writes, “allegations of corruption has been levied against the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki.”
Anyone with a keenness for language will see that the former CPS and later Editor of the Nigerian Observer needs a lesson in English 101. Any student of elementary English knows that you level allegations against someone and not levy; the latter is more appropriate if you want to levy a tax on an individual, a company, for instance. And then, there is the wrong usage of “allegations of corruption has been” instead of “allegations of corruption have been.”
In another passage, John Mayaki begs readers that “these are not moonlight tales and we must mention names, hence the ongoing call for accountability.”
There is something immediately blindingly obvious from this sentence: John Mayaki is unsure of his assertions which is why he is apologizing to his readers by saying “these are not moonlight tales.” Most people know that those who are predisposed to untruthfulness often begin with “I am telling you the truth,” or to put it in proper language common to most people in Edo State, “na true I dey talk, no be lie.”
Of course, discerning minds can always read between the lines, knowing full well that it is not the writer’s position to tell readers whether he is lying or not; he is to present his facts to readers and let them judge for themselves. But as most people are now familiar with John Mayaki’s hourly, daily, weekly vituperations, he has become the accuser, the writer and the judge all rolled into one.
The wonder is where does he get the energy for all that? Hasn’t he got something else to look up to in life, some kind of ambition to pursue post-CPS, Editor?
The running gist is that John Mayaki has since found a new master, a master who now trumpets his views and criticism of Governor Obaseki through the former CPS. And now, acting like a dog with a new leash around its neck, he is playing that role to the hilt.
The most recent demonstration of John Mayaki’s blind obedience (follow, follow, as Fela once said of such people) came only hours after the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari at Eagle Square in Abuja last Wednesday. His paymaster, against protocol, breached the order of seating. He was politely escorted out of a place reserved for other dignitaries. No sooner had the incident happened than John Mayaki took to the social media to defend his master’s unconscionable behavior.
But John Mayaki will do well to remember that such odious attitude, such craven nature is alien to the respectable home he was born into in Igarra. (His father is a distinguished chief of one of the families in Igarra.)
Beyond that, let us even consider some of his allegations as mentioned by him. “Determined to divert public funds, as evidences have shown, Obaseki resort (sic) to criminally inventive ways in achieving his unrighteous goals.” Obviously, these are the kinds of spurious accusations those without facts, without evidence often make. If not can John Mayaki step forward with his evidence(s)?
And then, he goes on to say Governor Obaseki “makes sure the global standard process of awarding contracts is compromised.” Can the knowledgeable John Mayaki tell us which “global standard” he is referring to: The American, Asian or European model or standard? Moreover, does he expect a governor to give contracts to his enemies?
It is a common practice in most democracies around the world to reward party faithful or those you trust to deliver a project and not a member of the opposition who might sabotage your effort.
When he was elected President of the United States of America in 1960, John Fitzgerald Kennedy promptly appointed his own younger brother, Ed Kennedy as Attorney General. Soon after the second Iraqi war with America in early 2000s, George Bush the Younger awarded the contract to clean up the mess in Iraq to a Texan company owned by a member of the Republican Party. There are countless instances of such contractual obligations to people you know are quite capable of doing the job.
Is John Mayaki saying that if he were governor of a state, he will award a contract to a member of the opposition party even when his own party member is qualified and competent enough?
From his frequent posts on and about the administration of Governor Obaseki in Edo State, it does seem John Mayaki is in need of a profitable employment and not being a lap dog to a master who, in the end, will do what is done to such people – dump him.
But for now, we cannot help wondering: what is wrong with John Mayaki?
Mustafa Jamal writes from Lagos