Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ribadu Oil Panel: Presidency, Doyin Okupe and an unethical postmortem, By Adeolu Ademoyo

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For doctors who take their profession seriously, ethics and medical ethics are at the core of their practice. In the course of living our lives as mortals, the need for postmortem often arises for sundry reasons-scientific, social, causal etc. But for the sake of public good, in special situations, the ethical reason sometimes takes the front seat when the need for postmortem arises.

Mr. Doyin Okupe is a medical doctor. Presently, Mr. Okupe works at the presidency as the special assistant to President Jonathan on Public Affairs. Public affairs are about public trust and public ethics. Also, as a medical doctor, Mr. Okupe ought to know the moral prime meaning and the centrality of medical ethics when it comes to postmortem issues. However, the information in the public domain if true is that the NNPC and the Presidency office of Mr. Okupe, the medical doctor who ought to know what medical ethics says with respect to postmortem, and what public ethics is with respect to public affairs, are organizing a lunch of selected Nigerian journalists with Dr. Okupe. This task by Dr. Okupe is a postmortem to the report of the Ribadu Oil Panel.

The question therefore is: how moral and ethical is Dr. Okupe’s postmortem task in feting Nigerian journalists to the Ribadu Oil panel report?  We ask this question for two reasons. First, the intense lack of the ethical is at the root of Nigerian problems. Second, PREMIUM TIMES, the platform on which this question is being raised, is founded to be an ethical flagship of discourse in Nigeria’s public domain. Therefore, the ethical in public affairs shall always be our first and last point of reference.

So how ethical is Dr. Okupe’s task on the report of the Ribadu Oil panel? There are three possible answers to this question. First is the nature of the “Ribadu Oil Panel as an outside of Industry Panel”. I call on any Nigerian both in and outside the government to, in a civil manner, contest with good reasons this nature and conception of the Ribadu Panel as conceived here. By this I mean rational reasons, and not politics or emotions. The second answer is the moral fault line (in the Ribadu Panel) – Mr. Orosanye, who was a former head of Nigerian public servants and the Deputy Chairman of the Ribadu Oil Panel. The third answer is the medical doctor, the second moral fault line, Dr. Doyin Okupe,  who is the chief executioner of the post mortem.

As an outside–the-industry panel, the Ribadu Panel has the moral  backing of Nigerians and Nigerian working people, whose common moral estate and  heritage Nigeria is, to maintain a moral  and objective distance  from the industry the panel is looking into.  Therefore, Dr. Okupe’s task is inherently flawed and ought not to hold because Mr. Orosanye‘s objection (around which the Ribadu Panel has deliberately been controversialized) is immoral and therefore untenable for two reasons.

During the life of the “Ribadu-Outside-of-Industry Panel” Mr. Orosanye, who is the Deputy Chair of the panel, took a job from one of the units -NNPC- in the same industry the panel he ought to serve as Deputy Chairman is investigating.  Again, I challenge Mr. Orosanye to go to any Nigerian elementary school, take an excuse from the school headmaster,  stand among Nigerian children in the school,  take  his own family with him, especially his own children and look Nigerians in the face and tell us his act is morally acceptable.

Second, the Ribadu Panel worked for 90 days. Mr. Orosanye attended the panel’s meeting for one day. I challenge Dr. Doyin Okupe, who is organizing this postmortem to go with Mr. Orosanye to any Nigerian elementary or high school during their morning devotion, stand before the students, look the students in the face, and tell the students how Mr. Orosanye worked on the Ribadu Panel, and tell the students that it is morally correct to work for one day out of 90 days the panel worked. Mr. Orosanye and Dr. Okupe should not forget to tell these students that Mr. Orosanye’s ethics on the Ribadu Panel is the morally “right” work ethics and the students should morally emulate Mr. Orosanye’s ethics.

The third answer to my question is the moral profile of the autopsist-Dr. Doyin Okupe. Dr. Doyin Okupe is occupying a public post on public trust. Therefore, Dr. Doyin Okupe is open to public scrutiny by Nigerian working people from whose taxes and common estate Dr. Okupe is paid to presumably serve.  Whoever occupies a public post opens himself to scrutiny. It is the public ethics of public trust. That is the standard in civilized societies. We ought to be one of these.

But Dr. Doyin Okupe, who has been given the job of postmortem, a job which sometimes has a high moral content to it, has a serious moral case to answer before Nigerian working people.  There are some moral charges against him which, given the meaning of public trust, he ought to discharge openly.  For example he has not publicly discharged the following moral case against him.  He collected contracts and money from Benue and Imo states and he did not complete the contracts, he allegedly has not returned  the money.

The question therefore is that even when we know that a postmortem is an exercise in a certification of death, and that therefore the presidency under President Goodluck Jonathan is trying to functionally kill  the “Ribadu-Outside-The-Industry-Oil-Panel”  by asking Dr. Okupe to perform this task, is the interment of the Ribadu Oil Panel morally justified and should the post mortem and  interment be performed by Dr. Doyin Okupe  whose appointment as a public affairs manager in the presidency  is morally flawed, who allegedly  is morally compromised and who  has not morally discharged the moral charges against him before Nigerians?

Based on these three reasons, Dr. Okupe’s postmortem on and death certification of the Ribadu Oil Panel is an act in serial immorality on the part of the presidency. I challenge Dr. Doyin  Okupe to look Nigerians and Nigerian youths and children  straight in the face and tell us that this act is morally correct ,  that we should commit this to our children and youths,  and that it should be part of our “patriotic” teaching in Nigerian elementary and high schools.

Adeolu Ademoyo (aaa54@cornell.edu) is of Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca New York.

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