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

Adeolu Ademoyo

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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  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    This time you really veered off topic. The job of Okupe is not defend Oronsaye but the administration. If you want to discuss Okupe’s moral failings before accepting this job, you can do so as Nigeria’s first non celibate priest. But what you are not allowed to do is to mix up Oronsaye alleged sins with that of Okupe. That is neither fair nor just. Okupe has never defended Oronsaye. What Okupe merely said is that both deserved to be heard. Because both Ribadu and Oronsaye were all appointed by the President. If you have an issue with Oronsaye take it up with him and do not drag Okupe into it, just to suit your preferred narrative.

  • segun

    did you read this article at all? the article says Okupe has moral questions to answer. the article says the Orosanye issue is an ethical issue. the article concludes that Okupe with a moral burden on his head which he has not unburden and discharged to Nigerians lacks the moral basis to take on a strictly moral issue – that is the point of the essay- you need to address that. your post did not.
    On a side issue the goal of your posts is never missed. Like many apologists of the president and presidency, the ETHICAL is a no go area for you. but we will put that aside. for now you failed to see the point of the essay which is that a morally compromised publicist appointee like okupe cannot take on a strictly moral issue like the orosanye issue. And if he does, then he is trying to kill the issue. Take this on before you reply.

    • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

      First, Okupe is not the arbiter in this, he merely shares the opinion of what the president decides or tries to elaborate on it. He is in no way deciding on Ribadu report. It is above his pay grade. So I still don’t see the point of your intervention.In any case, if mere allegation disqualifies people from public office, I doubt how many politicians on both sides of the divide will still be in office. May be it is the ideal but unlike you, I am a pragmatic conservative, I see things the way they are. I do not doubt the allegations against Okupe, neither do i believe them as true. None of those allegations have been proven to my knowledge.

  • Eziokwu bu Ndu

    Okupe is doing his job. He has done so well for the presidency already. If he has a moral burden, I have not observed that to affect his job which is the foremost consideraion of his employer(s). If he fails to do his job on the ground of ALLEGED moral question, who is saint enough to do theirs? Take a look at the task force and the report; is Ribadu a saint? Doesn’t he have moral BURDENS on his neck and legs?