By Paulinus Nsirim
Our attention has been drawn to the rantings of John Bazia, former Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs in Governor Nyesom Wike’s first tenure, published in some national Dailies.
In the said publications, Mr Bazia, who has started masquerading as a saint, was responding to the now confirmed accusation that he, Bazia, collected 80 percent of the “Kolanut” offered to traditional rulers during a Presidential campaign in 2015.
He tried so hard to convince Nigerians that he is not a thief and debtor. One of his points of defence was that Governor Wike appointed him Commissioner even when he knew he was appointing a thief as commissioner.
Well, the answer to that poser is succinctly captured in this famous quote by the writer and philosopher, C. JoyBell : “Don’t let a thief into your house three times. The first time was enough. The second time was a chance. The third time means you’re stupid.”
Simply put, John Bazia served as Member of the House of Assembly (the first time in the PDP House) and those who knew him at that time confirm that he had a frosty and hostile relationship with the then Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, which was one of the reasons, he, a two term legislator, did not return to the House and was disdainfully left in the political wilderness from 2007 – 2015, when his Speaker became Governor for two terms.
Governor Nyesom Wike rehabilitated John Bazia, gave him another chance in the PDP House in 2015, by appointing him as Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, even after his shameless and ignoble kleptocracy and ineptitude as head of the Presidential Campaign in his LGA.
His tenure as Commissioner was also largely uneventful, uninspiring and neither added any meaningful value to the Cabinet nor improved the fortunes of the PDP in any remarkable way.
So, when it was time to invite him a third time, Governor Wike wisely followed the advise of C. JoyBell and refused to reappoint Bazia as Commissioner in his cabinet. The reason for not reappointing him as Commissioner, was aptly and comprehensively explained by Governor Wike in an interview titled: “WIKE ON BAZIA: Who Would Reappoint Loafers As Commissioners?” published in the Vanguard Newspaper on December 22, 2020.
Governor Wike, in the interview spoke on the state of Rivers politics and described copiously and with verifiable instances, the characters and misdemeanors of the two former Commissioners; John Bazia of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs and his Transport counterpart, Ibinabo Michael West, who decamped from the PDP House to APC.
He said: “When we talk about defection, who and who defected? What are the qualities of those who defected? The two people who defected, who knew them in my cabinet? Have you ever seen them speak on behalf of the party one day? Have you heard them speak about my administration?
“There are people who defect and it will worry the government because these are internal members of the cabinet. Not everybody who is a Commissioner is a Commissioner. Chidi Lloyd defected to PDP, we knew who he was in APC. Who are these people who defected from the PDP?” Governor Wike asked rhetorically.
Indeed the thieving and debtor character of John Bazia was revealed and the records set straight by the very man he himself confessed of collecting a loan from, Mr. Lesi Maol, a Rivers Oil Magnate and Managing Director, Giolee Global Resources.
In an interview, published in the INSIDE NIGER DELTA Page of Sunday Vanguard, December 27, 2020, titled: “Euro Debt Controversy: HOW WIKE PAID LOAN TAKEN BY AMAECHI LOYALIST”, Mr. Maol simply took John Bazia to the cleaners, revealing how the former Commissioner and lawmaker, who was also his kinsman, begged him for a loan to settle a problem involving his son’s school abroad, and how after collecting the loan, he started playing a dubious game of delay tactics and even threatening him.
It was only when a counter threat to arrest the dubious former Commissioner with the Police eventually got to Governor Wike’s ears, that the Rivers Governor benevolently paid off the loan to avoid any further embarrassment to the State Government.
Indeed, the advise which Mr. Maol offered to John Bazia is priceless and actually explains perfectly, the kleptomaniac nature which may have prompted the stealing of “Kolanuts” meant for traditional rulers, by a former Commissioner and lawmaker. He advised Bazia thus: “People should cut their coat according to their cloth. Bring your children back from abroad and put them in a school here that you can afford. Do not borrow to feed family and pay school fees. Don’t borrow money for family use. You can borrow money for business,” the Oil magnate cautioned the disgraced former Commissioner.
It is also interesting and quite revealing that John Bazia, in the said publications confessed and pleaded guilty to all the accusations levelled against him. First, he confessed that the Traditional Rulers’ “Kolanut” was tampered with and after trying dubiously to put the blame on his driver and insisting that the money was eventually returned by the same driver, then went on to attempt to undermine the amount ‘stolen’ from the ‘kolanut’ just like every serial thief would do.
It has been confirmed that the driver who has been a partner in crime was acting the script of his dubious master. He acted on specific instructions from him, to remove 80 percent of the ‘kolanut’, no matter the value. How silly can one be?
John Bazia also confessed that he took a loan from Mr. Lesi Maol, even though he tried with his convoluted argument, like all typical debtors who do not intend to repay loans would do, to deny the amount collected. He instituted the diversionary court cases and litigation to attract public sympathy and cleverly get a reprieve, which he eventually did, when Governor Wike stepped in to offset his debt.
He equally confirmed that he did not pay back the loan after a very long time, which he attributed to a delay in payment of his salary as Commissioner, as though the repayment was tied to his appointment, and while admitting that it was actually Governor Wike who repayed the loan for him, went on like all ungrateful people, to insinuate that the involvement of the Governor may have been a set up by his political opponents to smear his name.
But then, he conveniently forgot too that he was a Commissioner and was also a debtor and that his imminent arrest by a citizen and businessman would have been a huge embarrassment to the State Government and Rivers people.
As for the flippant coinage of emptiness which Bazia alluded to Governor Wike’s administration, suffice it to note that the lies and deceit which surrounded most of those white elephant projects of the past he is celebrating, have already been exposed for the whole world to see.
One can only sympathise with the myopia and stagnated mindset of people like Bazia who deliberately refuse to acknowledge the amazing transformation going on in Rivers State, under the firm, astute, determined and unwavering leadership of Governor Wike.
We can only assure them that the marvelous infrastructural legacy projects, some of which have already been commissioned and the solid achievements and accomplishments in other sectors, which the Governor Wike administration is delivering across the length and breadth of Rivers State, will stand the test of time.
Referring to the obvious metamorphosis which has taken place in the PDP, since after the 2015 general elections, we need not remind the likes of Bazia, that this change was prompted by the actions of some persons who deliberately wanted to cripple and destroy the party to achieve their selfish interest in 2014.
It had to take the herculean courage, bravery and strategic political brilliance of Governor Wike to retain the identity of PDP, maintain the structure and sustain the existence and goodwill all of which have been the hallmarks of rebuilding the party in the last five years.
The fact that the likes of Bazia have found themselves on the periphery of a dynamic metamorphosis in the PDP and have gradually become irrelevant, redundant and valueless in the emerging structure, is clearly written for all to see and their decision to join a fractured, dismembered, confused and already crumbled political party, speaks volumes for their political calculations.
As far as the PDP is concerned, Bazia and his likes remain good riddance to bad rubbish.
(Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State)