The chief conspirator against me was God.

When I was a Research Fellow at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, I was once served a query accusing me of “gross incompetence.”  Without waiting for my response, I was also informed the Appointments and Promotions Committee (A&P) would be convened specifically to look into my case.

I thought the whole thing was some kind of a joke until two of my colleagues warned me the decision had already been taken to terminate my appointment because I was considered a threat to the Director-General; George Obiozor.  The plot was just to go through the motions.  Once the A&P met, I would be sacked. 

So I asked them for advice.  They told me there was nothing I could do; but they promised to pray for me.  I told them to go ahead and pray.  As for me, I would seek legal protection.


Saving my life 

I consulted a high-powered lawyer, asking for an injunction against the scheduled A&P meeting.  The lawyer told me I could not prevent them from meeting.  “Every step they are taking is legal and procedural,” he said.  “But I have inside information they have already decided to get me fired,” I replied.  The lawyer said to me: “Dr. Aribisala, if they fire you, then we will take them to court.” 

I concluded then that the legal system could not help me.  So I decided to contact the Foreign-Minister.  When I phoned him, he pretended and said I got a wrong number.  When I re-dialled, somebody else answered and said he was not in.  Everywhere I turned to for help; I met a brick wall.


Jesus is the Saviour

Then one day, Mrs. Yetunde Ogunseye came to see me.  She said: “The Lord says he understands you don’t pray.  But he says I should tell you to pray on this occasion and see what happens.”  I asked her if that was all, and she said yes.  I said: “No problem, I will pray.”  So I did. 

A few days later another friend, Michel Vogt, said the Lord told him to tell me that when I go before the A&P, I should say a short prayer before entering the room and then leave the rest to him.  Again, I had no problem with that straightforward requirement.  I told him: “If that is what it takes, I will do so.”


Buying insurance

But I refused to rely exclusively on God.  I prepared a huge dossier for each member of the seven-man A&P.  I spent a fortune photocopying articles, chapters of books etc.  When the day of my inquisition arrived, I went to the meeting armed with a suitcase full of documents.  But before entering the room, I did remember to say a short prayer. 

Seeing my suitcase, someone asked me jokingly if I was travelling.  I was not in the mood for jokes; I went there to fight.  I gave each person my carefully-prepared dossier of supporting documents and then waited like a cat to launch a counter-attack against my enemies.

The Chairman calmly introduced the members of the A&P to me one-by-one.  Then he said: “Dr. Aribisala; you have no case to answer before this Committee.  Is there anything you would like to tell us?” 

I could not believe my ears.  George Obiozor, my main adversary, quickly sent me a note scribbled on a torn sheet of paper.  It said: “Femi, you don’t have to say anything.  Everything is all right.”  He was now afraid of what I would say.

I was not really bothered with him.  My mind was elsewhere.  I said nothing and was excused to leave.  When I got back to my office, I sat down and burst into tears.  My friends were convinced I had been sacked.  But I wept for a different reason.  I wept because I got neither self-satisfaction nor personal glory from the case.  I wept because I was irrelevant to my victory.  I wept because I was denied the opportunity to defend myself.


The set-up

The entire incident was indeed a big conspiracy; but the chief conspirator was God, and not the Director-General.  The Lord was determined to show me that only he could be my Saviour. 

He made sure all avenues of self-defence were shut against me.  None of the Committee members even bothered to look at my carefully-arranged dossier.  Since the case against me was summarily dismissed, it was pointless for me to proceed nevertheless with my prepared defence.  Otherwise, I would have convinced myself my acquittal was a testament to the brilliance of my presentation.  As it was, I could only attribute my victory to two fervent heartfelt prayers asking God for help. 

Exactly two weeks after this incident; on 26 December, 1993, God took my life.

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