By Godwin Etakibuebu
There is a level of anger swelling up inside me and this is for good reason of patriotism. The President of any country, all over the world, once elected [or even gate-crashed] into that office, ceases living his or her personal life. He/she lives the lives of the people he/she represents. He or she becomes the symbol of that country. He becomes the father of the people of that territory.
Age counts less in this equilibrium. Hence, Emmanuel Macron; French President, at the age of 39 years, is father of that lovely country as much as Robert Mugabe, at 93 [until he was pushed aside a few days back] was the father of Zimbabwe. The life every good leader [the cache here is “good”] lives is totally that of “vicarious atonement”. At that point, a leader’s liability or asset rubs off on all his or her people, positively or negatively.
For example, Donald Trump, President of the most powerful country on earth, inability to differentiate between his personal and official life’s style in twitting, has brought America and Americans into much opprobrium in the eyes of the world. That is as much as idiosyncrasy of individual’s life style, at the top level of governance, can rub off on his or her people. It is for this reason that leaders are to be careful about their actions or inactions in government as every move they make has a sort of permanent mark on the people they lead, either for evil or for good.
It is against this background that some actions/inactions of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, are becoming terribly worrisome. For if the truth is to be properly told, evaluated and accepted, not few Nigerians are becoming seriously embarrassed by the president’s melodrama, mostly within the political and economic fronts. Let us take a very critical look at some of these dramas of absurdity.
Two recent events might suffice at this point and both have one thing in common but let us leave the making of opinion until after narration of the events.
The first is the biggest drama or film which one could caption as “Nigerian Corruption PLc” being directed by one Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina. The film, with four other co-directors [Abubakar Malami; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Lt-Gen Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau; Nigerian Minister of Interior, General Mohammed Babagana Monguno; National Security Adviser to the President and Lawal Musa Daura; Director General of the Department of State Security [DSS], was very interesting until another super star, this time an Executive Director, was introduced.
It is at this point that the film-show took another dimension. With the entrance of the Executive Director in the person of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, intrigues and excitement gave way to absurdity and embarrassment. To understand the turn of events in this melodrama, let us analyse role-function assigned to each actor in the whole cast.
Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, was the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms and he was alleged to fraudulently help himself to some Billions of Naira from the fund while pensioners all over Nigeria were starving to death. Maina was called to account for his alleged stealing when the matter was referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC]. Instead of the suspect going before the law he chose to run away from the Country to far away Dubai in United Arab Emirates. The Federal Government then, under Goodluck Jonathan, administratively dismissed the man from the Civil Service of the Federation in 2013 while the EFCC declared him a wanted criminal.
Other Directors/Actors of the film entered and the story changed. It is no more news that the government of Goodluck Jonathan was defeated by the Buhari-led government of the All Progressive Congress [APC] on the strength of “killing corruption” as epitomized by declaration of the anti-corruption Czar, Muhammadu Buhari. Under President Buhari, anything about corruption must be fought ferociously with dedicated devotion at least that is the posture Buhari holds for the whole world to believe.
However and suddenly, Abdulrasheed Maina; the wanted criminal, and while still on the wanted list of the EFCC, was smuggled back into the country, reinstated back to the Civil Service on double promotion, from the rank of Assistant Director to Acting Director and collected all his salaries/allowances throughout the time he was dismissed from the Civil Service, dating back to 2013. God however leaked the secret somewhere along the line and it was at this point that some of the personae dramatis started confessing what much they knew about the biggest scam in Nigerian history.
It all started with President Buhari, who under pretense of being innocent of the whole affairs, ordered the dismissal [which administratively wasn’t necessary as the same man had earlier been dismissed by the Federal Government] and set up an investigative panel to “unearth” the whole episode. He [the President] made Nigerians believed that he knew nothing about the reinstatement of Maina. It was later proved however that our President was only economically with the truth, as the culprit himself later announced to the whole world that it was the President that gave the Attorney General a “nod to meet with him in Dubai and ensure his return to the Civil Service”. Let us fast-track the film to the most disturbing and embarrassing part of the script.
President Buhari gave the ‘executive order’ to his Attorney General [who presides over the EFCC] to initiate the action and process of bringing Maina back to the Country and reinstating him into the Civil Service. The Attorney General; Abubakar Malami, proceeded to Dubai in company of another of Buhari appointee, this time the National Security Adviser – General Mohammed Babagana Monguno. Huh, the story is becoming more intriguing or exciting.
The journey for both men was “security-wise cleared” by Buhari’s Director General of the Department of State Security [DSS]; Lawal Daura, and the same man took responsibility for the safety of the fugitive criminal when he was brought back into the country. To assure that Maina security was never jeopardized at no point in the country, the Inspector General of Police; Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, added some contingent of tough looking “kill and go” policemen to the security squad of this most notorious pension thief.
We must give kudos to this 8th National Assembly [both at the Senate and House of Representative] which has become machinery of revealing the many lies and exposing all the “macho-pretenses” in this Buhari government.
We now know that the President knew everything concerning Maina from the beginning. He instructed his Attorney General to meet with Maina in Dubai. He would have given instruction to his kinsman – the DG of DSS – to give executive clearance to all involved in the movement and must have probably given instruction to his Minister of Interior to “do the needed” for Maina’s re-absorption back into the Civil Service with promotion.
Why would President Buhari embark on this hara-kiri type of journey, given the fact that the Head of Civil Service of the Federation; Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita Ekanem, [as revealed in a leaked memo] warned him about the “danger and damage the returning of Maina would do to the anti-corruption posture of this government”?
If President Buhari is not concerned about the embarrassment and damage his action, using all his principal officers, in helping corrupt individuals to escape the law, would cost him, is he not to think of the implication of this damaging film-show would have on the Nigerian people?
We are continuing on this subject because we need to know if our President understands the meaning of international embarrassment.
Godwin Etakibuebu, a veteran journalist, wrote from Lagos.