What this exercise is all about, as explained last week, is to set up templates which are to be used as perimeters of evaluating our President; Muhammadu Buhari, in the likely success or otherwise of the tedious assignment of “killing corruption before it kills Nigeria” [his own crafted and chosen words] which he has given to himself. It is for the purpose of looking at his [Buhari] strength of character in accomplishing his vow to put an end to corruption that we started by defining corruption and those that could be referred to as corrupt last week.
We also, in last week’s effort, identified Nepotism; which is defined as “favouritism shown to relatives or close friends by those in power [as by giving them jobs]” as a major member of corruption’s household. The indices we provided last week on “charges” of nepotism against our beloved President almost left him with vicarious culpability [or liability]. All we are doing, again, for the purpose of emphasis, as to have a clearer road map of forecasting the likely winner of this war between PMB and corruption.
We promised last week to start with the case involving Abdulrasheed Maina; former boss of the Presidential Team on Pension Reforms, who was alleged to have corruptly fiddled with something over Two Billion Naira and was so indicted during President Goodluck Jonathan tenure and was accordingly dismissed from the Civil Services on February 20, 2013. This same man, on the wanted list of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission [EFCC] till date, was smuggled back into the country from the United Arab Emirate, where he absconded to since 2013, with combination of both presidential and royal reception. Within a short time of his returning, the alleged thief was re-instated back into the Civil Service on promotion from the rank of Assistant Director to Acting Director.
It remains a mystery to believe but it happened in President Buhari’s Nigeria. What made the mystery more magical was the revelation that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, colluded with some top appointee/confidants of the President to carry out this art of total perfidy. Among those figured in this “operation of unholy alliance” is the incumbent Minister of Interior; Lt-General Abdulrahman Dambaza.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Winfred Ekanem Oyo-Ita was equally figured but a leaked letter from her office to the office of the Chief of Staff to the President has since played the truth out to wit: that the Winfred Oyo-Ita did meet President Buhari and advised him against re-instating Maina as such act could deal a terrible blow to the anti-corruption war. Nigerians now have the fact that her decision to meet Mr President with the timely advice was after a letter she wrote to the President through the office of the Chief of Staff; the over-bearing Abba Kyari, on the same matter was never acknowledged. Abba Kyari himself was to be figured in the episode also.
However, the greatest indictment of President Buhari and his government on this matter, came from the alleged “Pension Thief” [as he is now popularly known and addressed]’s family. Listen to what the family; which came out astutely in defense of their own, describing him as a messiah, had to say on the saga. “Maina’s family accused the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of being the brain behind Maina’s return and reinstatement in the Federal Civil Service. The family also alleged that Maina was being assisted and guarded by some officials of the DSS, who provided security for him [Maina] since his arrival back to the country.”
President Buhari might have ordered Maina dismissed from the Civil Service; an action in tautology [as Maina had earlier been dismissed from the Civil Service by President Jonathan’s administration in 2013 [or how many Abdulrasheed Maina are we dealing with in this issue?] and ordered an investigative enquiry to fish out all those top government functionaries that brought this opprobrium to Nigeria, the civilized world community’s opinion about Nigeria level of corruption has been made, albeit permanent place of leadership in corrupt practices. It will take more than the present endeavours of President Buhari to reverse this “world authentic opinion.”
Let us go back a little to the beginning of President Buhari’s administration in 2015 for just one episode. This was when the president rolled out his machinery of battle against corruption and it was the beginning of Sambo Dasuki [former National Security Adviser to President Jonathan] revelation – now known as Dasukigate. Too many top Nigerians were arrested for obtaining money from Dasuki and most of those arrested are still in court on corrupt charges. Amongst prominent Nigerians arrested then was retired Brigadier General Lawal Jafaru Isa; a very close ally of President Buhari.
He was arrested on January 6, 2016 for allegedly “receiving N170 million from Col Dasuki” He was however released from EFCC custody within few hours and the Chairman of the EFCC told journalists on January 10, 2016, that “we have recovered N100 million from Col Jafaru Isa and asked him to go and bring the balance of N70 million”. He added though that the fact that “he has returned the money does not exclude him from being charged to court.” That was a rear privilege that only close friends of President Buhari and a solid member of the ruling Political Party – APC [he was a member of the Buhari transition council in 2015] could have enjoyed. Can we call this corruption?
Let us look at another most recent event. The Punch Newspaper of November 9, 2017 reported, with bold letters Controversy Over Alleged $1.4m Scam In Defence Ministry, with a rider saying, General detained, court-martialled. The Punch Newspapers based its report [after doing its detailed investigation] on one online Media report. “The Cable’s report captioned, ‘General detained as another scandal rocks Buhari’s government, had stated that the Minister of Defense; Dan-Ali, the immediate past permanent secretary of the ministry, Danjuma Nanfo; and the coordinator of peacekeeping, Brig. Gen LYM Hassan, were being questioned in connection with disbursement of $1.4m meant for a UN project.”
Investigation by the newspaper to the Ministry of Defense confirmed the existence of the contract in question except the ministry spokesman, Col. Tukur Gusau, said the contract in question followed due process.
And until the truth about this latest scandal is made known by the Buhari government, it is looking as there are too many scandalous corrupt practices in the main stream of the government. The real irony is that there is no hope of knowing the truth, neither there is evidence of confidence from Nigerians on their President these days as it was of old. They [Nigerians] are not to blame nor are the gods to be carpeted for this lack of trust.
The science of studying body-movement of the President has not been properly sold to Nigerians beyond the cache of the cabal in the Villa and this is not too good for confidence building. Besides, we have a President that could dissipate much energy defending what everyone knows is wrong until probably, the gods call his attention to the reality. A most recent case in proving this was his stout defense of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Lawal David Babachir, even against the solid evidences the Senate of the Federal Republic tendered against him.
It is for these reasons of current happenings as regards corrupt practices that the evaluation of President Buhari competence in “killing Corruption before it kills Nigeria” must be carried out now. The question that needs an urgent answer is: who wins this war – Buhari or Corruption? All Nigerians need to participate in providing the answer. It is a question that must be answered and our time of answering the question starts now.
Godwin Etakibuebu, a veteran journalist, wrote from Lagos.