Why Asara Must Be Stopped In Abuja

Asara is expecting a place of honour in the new team being put together by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan. To secure the confidence of his former boss, therefore, it is only predictable that Asara will gladly divulge everything he knows about Sylva in order to curry favour with Jonathan. Goodluck should be careful, Asara has been known as a mole who would use his blackmail tactics to selfish purposes. That is why he has promptly relocated to Abuja

Why Asara Must Be Stopped In Abuja by John Jomoroko 

The recent resignation of Chief Asara A. Asara as Commissioner for Information and Communication in Bayelsa State did not come as a surprise to many. When he was appointed to that sensitive office in September 2008, discerning sons and daughters of the oil-rich state wondered if Governor Timipre Sylva knew what he was doing at all. By popular calculations, it was only a matter of time before Asara would show his treacherous colours, throw mud in the face of Sylva, and leave the governor to his own devices. That speculation has come to pass. 

Asara’s misadventures in politics are well known from the days of the old Rivers State when he survived along the corridors of power by conning his way into reckoning. He has hardly ever been known as a man whose word can be relied upon. For him, politics is about finding favour with the winning camp, stabbing the next man in the back, and beefing up one’s bank accounts in the process. 

Not surprisingly, when Asara was first appointed as a Special Adviser and later substantive Commissioner under the Alamieyeseigha government, his name was repeatedly tied to stories of corruption and embezzlement in the local papers of the day. Things got even worse when he became Political Adviser under Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure as Governor. As many journalists in the state who have had the misfortune of dealing with Asara will confirm, integrity does not hold water where he is concerned, especially when there are pecuniary gains waiting at the end of the day.

Today, no doubt, Asara is expecting a place of honour in the new team being put together by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan. To secure the confidence of his former boss, therefore, it is only predictable that Asara will gladly divulge everything he knows about Sylva in order to curry favour with Jonathan. In more ways than one, Asara has been known as a mole who would use his blackmail tactics to selfish purposes. That is why he has promptly relocated to Abuja.

While Jonathan considers his best choices from Bayelsa, therefore, he should be wary of the Asaras of this world. Indeed the Acting President will do well to reckon with the opinion of Nengi Josef Ilagha, the General Manager of the Bayelsa State Newspaper Corporation, BSNC, who was summarily suspended from office for being too outspoken and for boldly calling on the Commissioner to resign his appointment on grounds of fraud and incompetence. 

With the benefit of hindsight, many Bayelsans are beginning to see reason with the award-winning poet and veteran speech writer who decidedly became the vocal logo of conscience in the state. Indeed Prince Nengi Ilagha spoke out courageously against corruption in public office where everyone else preferred to keep silent, and he did this with admirable panache, using the state newspaper as a sounding board, being the only public weapon at his disposal. 

Whatever anyone may say for Asara Asara, it is clear that the Akipelai-born politician resigned for selfish reasons. He jumped the fence to the other side, quite in spite of his cocksure bragging that he would remain the information boss in the state for as long as Sylva remained governor. It is a mark of how feckless his pronouncements are that today he has denounced the Sylva government outright, and left every self righteous observer nodding their heads knowingly. The man has simply played true to character as one who cannot be taken seriously. 

It is ironic that a politician of Asara’s pretensions, one who sees himself as a bull-dozer in the best sense of the expression, could describe Governor Sylva as a bully whom he could no longer tolerate. Coming from a man who only recently described the governor as a “small boy in politics,” it was a laughable excuse to abandon ship midway and look out for the greener pastures offered by Dr Jonathan’s fateful emergence as Acting President. 

Why did it take Asara so long to know that Sylva was an avoidable bully? Is Asara not the same man who has been begging Bayelsans to vote for Sylva in the next elections? Why the sudden change of opinion at such a decisive moment? Why was Asara no longer getting the attention of Sylva? These are but a few of the queries that will continue to come up for air in the face of Asara’s questionable volte-face. 

Asara’s tenure as Commissioner for Information showed him to be a neophyte in matters of media management, and he was quick to make this confession himself at every opportunity. Yet he would not work with the blueprint that was handed to him by the special media advisory committee he set up to guide him. Even more obviously, he left Governor Sylva to be his own image-maker with a regular appearance on a Wednesday radio chat show that soon became boring to Bayelsans and to Sylva himself. 

Ultimately, it is to Asara’s discredit that he left all three arms of the state media in dire straits. The state newspaper remains comatose when, in fact, this self-acclaimed juggernaut had a golden chance to redeem it in the larger interest of the Sylva government and Bayelsa as a whole. In like manner, he left the electronic arm of the state media in desperate conditions of survival because he was more concerned with what he could grab for himself at all times. 

Nothing demonstrates this better than the zeal with which Asara pursued the state television project in the days before its expected commissioning by Yar’Adua. Not only did he take up residence at the station, he commandeered in-coming funds purely for his own purposes, leaving staff in the lurch. It is on record that Asara appropriated the contracts for clearing the site, supplying sand and tiling the premises, all of which amounted to millions of naira. When he had milked the station dry, he blamed every shortcoming on the poor management of Megan Bozimo. 

What is more, the former Commissioner is alleged to have embezzled 52 million naira meant for the state newspaper house, besides insisting on a 20 percent cut from the 262 million naira balance designated to repair the rotary press and allied accessories at BSNC. Little wonder that an editor with the state newspaper described Asara as “a heedless political job hunter without a media bearing of any sort who would be more useful to his time and place as a local fisherman.” 

With his exit, gross acts of graft and corruption involving the former Commissioner are coming to public light. Staff of the Ministry of Information are said to be celebrating his long overdue resignation, and security operatives in Abuja are reportedly monitoring every sly move of Asara, with an ultimate bid to get him to account for his many sins against Bayelsa. That is the way it should be. Every political wolf that has been hiding under sheep’s clothing should be revealed soon enough for who they truly are. 

In the spirit of Ogbia brotherhood, Asara has gone to Abuja to sing the praises of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, to reveal everything he knows about Chief Timipre Sylva, and to offer specious advice. That much is obvious. Thankfully, President Goodluck Jonathan has given clear indications that he will work with committed technocrats who have the noble future of Nigeria close to heart, people with unassailable testimonials of honour and upright conduct in public affairs, citizens who are willing to demonstrate a manifest fear of God in and out of office. 

As a patriot who is only too conscious of the rare opportunity given him by God, Jonathan cannot possibly accommodate sycophants and impostors who parade dubious credentials at the state level, and are desperate to repeat their misdeeds on a national platform. He will be well advised to keep the highest professional standards in mind when selecting the best brains from his home state, as from other parts of the country, to help him gain credibility in the few months that he is expected to serve Nigeria at the helm of affairs.

John Jomoroko”