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Friday, July 22, 2016

The mess gets messier

These days, events are unfolding at such a dizzying pace; there is hardly sufficient time and space to x-ray them. In the last two weeks, I had thought of countless things to write about which I never got to doing before some other pressing issues reared their heads. A few weeks ago, there was talk of ‘government within government’, an unfortunate reference to how a powerful clique/cabal holds governments hostage, calls the shots and determines who gets what, and sometimes undermines their principal in the process.  I wanted to title it “Captives in Government House” in reference to the elected official held captives by their own appointees. This scenario exists at both the centre of governance and in the states.

 At the presidency, there is said to be heightened tension and mutual suspicion among the men (and women) around President Muhammadu Buhari, leading to questions about the constitutionality of their positions vis a vis the influence they exert on the decisions and policies of the presidency. Such influential men around the president include Alhaji Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari, the president’s Chief of staff, his wife, Aisha Buhari, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno, some influential personal staff and ministers. This paper once reported on the powers chiefs of staff wield in states and their influence on the chief executives, despite not having constitutionally designated roles like the deputy governor and the secretary to the state government.

At the National Assembly, came another mess that created ripples in the polity. At a time Nigerians are hungry and angry, a time when the leadership of the Senate is under public scrutiny over forgery trial and budget padding, all they could think about was to initiate a bill to give them immunity against prosecution. Already, pressure is mounting to amend the constitutional immunity governors currently enjoy.  If only the lawmakers know that public opinion is against them and #OccupyNass is still trending, they would not dare to provoke Nigerians with the proposal of another irritating law. 

Then came the Senator Dino Melaye saga: I didn’t want to dignify Melaye and his rabble-rousing antics with any form of comments. His altercation with Senator Remi Tinubu is just an extension of the Senate President Bukola Saraki and APC national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu’s feud over the manner the former emerged. So, how does this benefit or put food on the table of those who voted them into power?

It is disturbing that instead of engaging in people-centered policies, productive discourses and making progressive laws, all that the APC government and its elected officials have engaged in since assumption of power is supremacy battle, mutual suspicion and proxy wars. They have forgotten so soon, how Nigerians derided and rejected the PDP for taking the people for granted. They should be reminded that 2019 is not too far off and card readers are still in use, and Nigerians are much wiser.

Another issue threatening the anti-corruption stance of this government is the alleged shielding of President Buhari’s right hand men in the army procurement probe.  Chief of Army Stafff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, who previously served as Director of Procurement at the Defence Headquarters, curiously, was neither indicted nor recommended for prosecution. Not forgetting Abdulrahman Dambazzau whose era as Chief of Army Staff was cleverly left out of the probe in what is now referred to as a doctored and selective probe report; thereby creating ripple effects and casting a dark cloud over government’s sincerity.

Dambazzau served as Chief of Army staff between 2008 and 2010, so how could he have been left out of the probe hook? This is contrary to Lai muhammed’s claim that the interim report only worked on procurement and contracts awards between 2007 and 2016. Meanwhile, Gen Kenneth Minimah and Lt Azubike Ihejirika who served after Dambazzau, were indicted, and their prosecution has been okayed by the president. This amounts to changing the rules in the middle of a game. By okaying the prosecution of some people and leaving out his allies, the president did not prove there would be justice for all in his anti-graft war.

In 2006/2007, the Ribadu-led, and Obasanjo propelled EFCC went into frenzied political vendetta and issued guidelines on who was corrupt, and who was qualified or not qualified to run for office. All the ‘friends of government’ then eventually got ruffled one way or the other? A good example is Olabode George who was jailed by the Yar’Adua government after he was left off the hook by the Obasanjo government. So for everyone who had their hands in the till, or appropriated our collective patrimony or used their office to obstruct the course of justice, a day of reckoning will come their way, some day.

In the face of the myriad of problems the country is faced with, it is disheartening that the authorities at the executive and legislative levels only engage in trivial supremacy battle, personality clash and ego tripping, while serious issues of national concern are trivialized and relegated to the background.

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