By Udeme Ankott
The story of Jezebel in the Bible meets a fitting spec in the life of Dr. Joi Nunieh, a morally decrepit character that political expediency spawned as the managing director of the periodized Interim Management Committee (IMC) of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) but whose attitudinal flaws facilitated the loss of that coveted office within 105 days. Nunieh is a confirmation of the maxim that attitude determines altitude. Nunieh’s characterization with that of Jezebel of the Bible draws import from the consort of moral failures locatable in these characters. They share odious and resenting traits that draw their societies into consequential action. Rather than use their positions to uplift society, their inclination for evil predisposes them to drag society down and perhaps have it subdued into sync with their depravities.
Through the centuries, the name Jezebel has come to be associated with false prophets, lies and murderous rage. Christians also associate Jezebel with promiscuity, with fallen and abandoned women. The Jezebel stereotype is an oppressive image of a fiendish woman who uses promiscuity as a tool to lure, control, subjugate and destroy. In Christian lore, a comparison with Jezebel suggests a pagan or an apostate masquerading as a servant of God. To reinforce the universal reservation for the name Jezebel, Frankie Laine in 1951 recorded “Jezebel” written by Wayne Shanklin which soared as a hit song. The song began with the lyrics:
“If the Devil was born with a pair of horns,
It was you, Jezebel, it was you.
If ever an angel fell,
Jezebel, it was you, Jezebel, it was you!”
The lyrics capture humanity’s reservation for the character, Jezebel. For those not familiar with the name Jezebel, a little historical sketch may suffice. According to Biblical accounts, Jezebel was the wife of Ahab, king of Israel (1 Kings 16:31). Jezebel having successfully lured her husband, both instituted the worship of Baal and Asherah on a national scale. In addition, she violently purged the prophets of Yahweh from Israel. Having established Baal as a way of worship in Israel, a conflict arose between the worship of Baal and Yahweh that the people knew. That conflict led to a contest at Mount Carmel where the supremacy and authority of Yahweh was reinvented through Prophet Elijah. Of course this gave rise to a murderous rage of Jezebel which also led to her ignoble death and the annihilation of the Omeride Dynasty.
Dr. Joi Nunieh’s life has always been ensconced in conflict and controversy acquiescing with the Jezebel metaphor . As someone who had a long stint in Port Harcourt, one is not unfamiliar with some of her sordid stories. For controversy and conflict, Nunieh reeks of them as a way of life. Her educational career is mired in them as well as her National Youth Service Corp (NYSC). But it needs to be reminded that when certificates are issued at the end of a study programme, the certificates assert the importance of two key variables: character and learning; and ascertain that they are the prerequisite for the issuance of the certificates. But characters like Joi Nunieh may necessitate a review of this condition and compel the invention of other criteria to further save the degradation of certificates in the hands of morally debased characters like the one in question. If there was a mistake that the Buhari led administration made, it was the appointment of Dr. Joi Nunieh as the head of the Interim Management Committee of NDDC. It appears that the routine security checks of appointees were not applied in her case. If it was done, the pugnacious and perfidious traits that characterize her life and non-fitness for the occupation of public office would have been identified before her crippling fall and the spectacle of embarrassment she has become.
Her actions today point at someone struggling with extreme frustration that borders on dementation. Nunieh is quoted to have said that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio who by virtue of oversight responsibility embedded in his office supervises the NDDC, gave her oath of loyalty to swear as the acting managing director of the agency. Nunieh is said to be a lawyer. Can a sensible lawyer who is worth her onions prefer such weighty allegation without adducing factual evidence like location, time, witness and other concomitant elements that would accentuate the allegation and confer on it some semblance of truth?
The pedestrian outpouring is no doubt proof that she is a garrulous, petulant and impish character who is cantankerous and bereft of any wisdom. It is unfortunate that any university conferred upon her any degree(s) for she is not worthy of such qualification. By character and knowledge, Joi Nunieh is enormously unqualified to flaunt the certificate of any academic institution that accords mental rigour any pride of place.
To wilfully contrive an allegation that she was told to subscribe to oath of loyalty by the minister many months after she was appointed and relieved of her appointment for what has been widely reported as acts of impropriety reinforces the hypothesis that she is part of the shameless scheme that believes that to truncate the forensic audit, they must remove Akpabio as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. Just as Jezebel who did not care about the interest of the people of Israel and who did everything including seduction to have her way, Joi Nunieh is acting in like manner, concocting lies against the people’s interest, to have her way.
Joi Nunieh’s records smack of curiosity making her incorrigible behavior a matter of public concern especially as she has attained a status that she is sometimes albeit erroneously trusted with leadership . Marriage is one enterprise that is viewed to have a reforming and redeeming effect. Marriage as ordained by Christ is expected to be a sanctuary of reform held in sanctity. But Nunieh has not only brought marriage into all kinds of aberration and disrepute, she has violated its sanctity beyond the bounds of decency. Her intrinsic moral weakness is captured succinctly in the disdainful manner she has treated the institution of marriage which in every material particular, represents aspects of the tradition of Niger Delta that she arguably claims to be an adherent as the holder of the highest title of Ogoni land. Such claim seems laughable when viewed in the context of her scandalous moral record and undoubtedly offends the public sensibilities of Ogoni people.
To Dr Joi Nunieh, marriage is a business venture, not a relationship to keep and cherish. Nunieh commenced her marriage “career” in 1991 when she tied a tenuous nuptial knot with her first husband, late Honourable Linus Wiito Kpabari who then was a member of the House of Representatives , representing Khana Federal Constituency on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC). After collecting the sum of NGN2.4 million (Two million, four hundred thousand Naira) for the supplies of materials to the site of Constituency Project which were not supplied, Nunieh proceeded to declare her husband missing on a national television, NTA, to create a stalemate and divert attention from the fraud she had allegedly perpetrated. In that controversial circumstance, the Jezebel of Niger Delta abandoned her marriage leading the husband to discover that his loving wife was already in extra marital affairs with no room for reconciliation.
In 1994, Joi Nunieh embarked on another marriage “career”, this time to one Engineer John Yorwika, a businessman and son of a foremost Ogoni politician and former Chairman of old Bori Local Government Area. The marriage produced two female children and one adopted son . As a leopard that can not change its spots, Nunieh in 1999 collected the sum of NGN 16.9 million (Sixteen million, nine hundred thousand Naira) as contract for the furnishing of old Obi Wali Cultural Centre. The contract was awarded to the husband by the then governor, His Excellency, Sir (Dr) Peter Odili. Nunieh did not deliver the job and the money not accounted for by her thus ending her marriage again on a controversial note.
Enter the third husband in 2005 in the person of Professor O. A . Akinyemi, a lecturer in the University of Abuja, who is now retired. Nunieh did not only fleece the renowned Prof of the gargantuan sum of $80,000 (Eighty thousand United States Dollars), she also successfully separated Prof from the children and family before finally abandoning the marriage and subjecting the enstranged husband to a round of traumatic life. Grapevine has it that she is working on her fourth marriage as she is currently engaged to Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs, a businessman and politician from Akuku-Toro Local Government Area of Rivers State.
With so many husbands in one lifetime, it is difficult to admit that this kind of woman possesses the character that can breath moral health into an agency that had become a cesspool for sleaze. Her 105 days in the Agency side by side with what she fraudulently acquired, attests to the danger NDDC was exposed to with her as the Acting Managing Director. We must commend the Presidency for acting timeously and expeditiously in relieving her of the appointment. As it is often said , a stitch in time saves nine.
Udeme Ankott writes from Lagos.