Opinion: Mainagate: One scandal too many! – By AYO OYOZE BAJE
“No man who is his country’s enemy
Shall call himself my friend.
Of this I am sure-
Our country is our life;
Only when she rides safely,
Have we friends at all.
Such is my policy for our common weal”
-Creon in Antigone by Sophocles.
More like a spellbinding season film series, the spate of screaming scandals rocking the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is getting more intriguing. With fiction-like twists and turns, couched with denials and tepid responses one is bound to ask if our dear President is still the “Lion King” holding the reins of political power at the Aso Rock? Or, have the hyenas and jackals truly taken over and calling the shots, as his bold wife, Aisha, had several times insinuated?
These questions are pertinent because of the recent allegations of financial scams brought up against key officials in this administration. These include that of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; the $26 billion contract award traced to the Group Managing Director of the igerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, without the knowledge of the Minster of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, and outside the purview of the Tenders’ Board. And now we have the iniquitous Mainagate. The former pension boss, who fled Nigeria in 2013, sneaked back to the country and was reinstated into the civil service, and promoted! Can you beat that?
All these unpardonable acts have cumulatively put a huge question mark over the integrity wings that saw Buhari ride the political firmament and scale over former President Goodluck Jonathan to the nation’s number one political seat back in 2015.
Currently, the army of the so-called ‘hailers’ or his die-hard supporters are having an Herculean task trying to ward off the ferocious attacks by the “wailers” now having a field day and growing in leaps and bounds. And you cannot blame them. The usual lame and vacuous recourse to blaming ex-President Jonathan’s administration for the myriads of our current woes has lost its currency. One only hopes that both Garba Shehu and Lai Mohammed can read the livid lips of concerned Nigerians.
Indeed, not a few patriots have yet to come to terms with the long-winding, bureaucratic delays in handling corruption charges against the Peoples Democratic Party former governors that have defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress. Add that to the ease with which similar charges brought against Buhari’s men suffer the Doppler’s Effect. Both are inimical and antithetical to the anti-graft war.
In the words of the former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, “the controversy surrounding the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina to the civil service is the most lethal blow to the Buhari-led administration’s fight against corruption.”
On his part, the inimitable Senator Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central, says corruption used to be hosted under the umbrella (PDP) but has now been swept beneath the carpet, by the brooms of the APC. Reacting to the reinstatement of Maina, ex-chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, into the civil service, Sani described corruption as a cat with nine lives, resurfacing with each administration.
Only recently, in reaction to the Federal Government’s directive to all relevant agencies to compile the names of “looters”, Sani said the list should not be limited to “Umbrella United players but will include those in the Broomers FC and ‘Paris Saint Germain’ and Dynamo Cabal FC players.”
Taking the public outrage against the Mainagate a notch higher, Ijaw youths under the umbrella of the Ijaw Youth Council worldwide, from the nine states of the Niger Delta, have thrown their weight behind the call for the dismissal of all officers involved in the embarrassing recall of pension funds fugitive, Maina. They insist that the incident has dealt a serious blow to the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration.
According to them, it is totally unacceptable for key officers of the Buhari administration such as the Attorney General of the Federal and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahamam Dambazau, and the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission to have played key roles in the unthinkable reinstatement of Maina.
Also, an online news portal, Premium Times, has reported that despite being on the run after being declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for alleged corruption, Maina was provided federal security cover! Investigators have found that for months, Maina actually received official protection from operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Services. It is alleged that the DSS also provided an accommodation for him at his controversial $2m house in Jabi, Abuja.
So, what do we make of these recent high-wired, sensational scandals? First is my long-held position that Nigerians have been battling with the twin evils of corruption and impunity and not just corruption alone. When allegations involving the untoward financial sleaze, running to humongous sums are made known to the pubic, there is instant outrage. Soon after, members of the National Assembly ask the committees related to such charges to investigate them. The law courts take their turn, but months or even years later, nothing tangible comes out of all the hullabaloo and the ordinary Nigerians are short-changed again.
When perpetrators of such heinous crimes against the Nigerian nation are left to walk the streets as free men, worse crimes take place. That explains why many state governors collect huge monthly allocations and bailouts but divert such to feather their nebulous nests, instead of paying their long-suffering workers.
My candid admonition is for President Buhari to realise and show more by action than by words that he is, indeed, not only the President to his close allies from the core North or his favoured APC faithful, but to all Nigerians. Is he still in charge at Aso Rock? Time will tell.
- Baje, a media consultant and public affairs analyst, wrote in from Lagos. 08057971776