How about the Other “Mainas” in Buhari’s gov­ern­ment?

Weekly Trust - - Views - Fa­rooqkper­ogi@ya­ Twit­ter:@fa­rooqkper­ogi with Fa­rooq Kper­ogi with M.U Ndagi

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari is in­fa­mously im­per­vi­ous to,and even con­temp­tu­ous of, pub­lic opinion. That’s why his or­der to fire Ab­dul­rasheedMaina who was sur­rep­ti­tiously re­in­stated into the civil ser­vice and pro­moted to the next level in spite of weighty al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion against him was both re­fresh­ing and pleas­antly sur­pris­ing.

Of course, the real, far-reach­ing sur­prise would be if the pres­i­dent is able to sum­mon the tes­tic­u­lar for­ti­tude to fire the peo­ple who con­spired to pull off this au­da­cious per­ver­sion of jus­tice and civil ser­vice pro­to­cols.

While it’s grat­i­fy­ing that the pres­i­dent has asked that the is­sue be thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated, the fate of pre­vi­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion in­volv­ing peo­ple close to the pres­i­dent (such as Babachir DavidLawal) doesn’t in­spire con­fi­dence that any­thingearthshak­ing will come out of this.

But maybe-just maybe-the pres­i­dent has now had enough and is de­ter­mined to sal­vage what re­mains of his se­verely di­min­ished rep­u­ta­tion through a full-throated at­tack on the cor­rup­tion of not just his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents but also of his close as­so­ci­ates, which is frankly the sin­cer­est test of his will to fight

Pre­cisely on Tues­day Oc­to­ber `18, 2017, Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari re­ceived a del­e­ga­tion of the Nige­rian Gov­er­nors’ Fo­rum (NGF) led by its chair­man, Gover­nor Ab­du­laziz Yari of Zam­fara State. Speak­ing to the del­e­ga­tion at the Aso Rock Pres­i­den­tial Villa in Abuja, Pres­i­dent Buhari, as re­ported by news­pa­pers, ex­pressed deep con­cern over in­creased com­plaints by work­ers in many states over un­paid salaries and al­lowances. This was in spite of his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­ter­ven­tions in forms of bail out and Paris Club re­fund. Pres­i­dent Buhari was quoted as say­ing “How can any­one go to bed and sleep soundly when work­ers have not been paid their salaries for months?” In sym­pa­thy with work­ers, he was also re­ported to have said, “I ac­tu­ally won­der how the work­ers feed their fam­i­lies, pay their rents and even pay school fees for their chil­dren” .

A few days af­ter the NGF’s visit, Gover­nor Yari de­bunked the re­port which said Pres­i­dent Buhari was an­gry with the gov­er­nors; ac­cus­ing the Spe­cial Ad­viser to the Pres­i­dent on Me­dia and Pub­lic­ity Mr. Femi Adesina, for spread­ing false in­for­ma­tion about their meet­ing cor­rup­tion.

The Head of Ser­vice of the Fed­er­a­tion, the Min­is­ter of In­te­rior, the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral and Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, and other co-con­spir­a­tors may yet get the boot. Should that hap­pen, I’d be one of the peo­ple whose con­fi­dence in the pres­i­dent would be re­stored.But don’t hold your breath.

What’s most sig­nif­i­cant, though, is the fact that Ab­dul­rasheedMaina is not an aber­ra­tion in this ad­min­is­tra­tion. He is merely an ad­di­tion to a list that is al­ready dis­tress­ingly long. Let me re­ca­pit­u­late a few names that are go­ing the rounds in Nige­rian so­cial me­dia cir­cles.

A cer­tain Louis Edozien who was fired in 2014 asEx­ec­u­tive Direc­tor at the Niger Delta Power Hold­ing Com­pany (NDPHC) for fail­ure to pro­duce au­then­tic cre­den­tials dur­ing an au­dit was re­in­stated and pro­moted to the po­si­tion of Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Works, Power and Hous­ing in Novem­ber 2016.NDPHC’sGen­eral Man­ager in charge of au­dit and com­pli­ance by the name ofMrs. Maryam Mo­hammed who au­dited Edozien’s cre­den­tials and rec­om­mended his fir­ing was un­justly fired last year in ap­par­ent re­tal­ia­tory vendetta.

The po­si­tion of Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary is nor­mally the crown­ing ac­com­plish­ment of ca­reer civil with the pres­i­dent. But even when mem­bers of the NGF were given the full ben­e­fit of doubt, the same feel­ings are im­plied from an ear­lier re­mark made on Mon­day Septem­ber 11, 2017 by Pres­i­dent Buhari when he re­ceived mem­bers of the Na­tional Coun­cil of Tra­di­tional Rulers at the Pres­i­den­tial Villa in Abuja. Pres­i­dent Buhari told the tra­di­tional rulers who were there on a cour­tesy visit that he was not pleased with the in­abil­ity of many state gov­ern­ments to pay salaries and pen­sion ar­rears re­spec­tively owed work­ers and re­tired civil ser­vants.

Since this ear­lier but in­dict­ing re­mark was made by Pres­i­dent Buhari over a month ago, no one in­clud­ing the gov­er­nors re­futed the claim that many state gov­ern­ments owe work­ers and re­tirees sev­eral months of un­paid salaries and pen­sions. So, whether the pres­i­dent ex­pressed anger over the sad sit­u­a­tion or not, the in­dis­putable fact is that work­ers and re­tirees are be­ing owed en­ti­tle­ments. If any­one yet lives in doubt as to this wor­ry­ing phe­nom­e­non, the re­cent sui­cide com­mit­ted by a worker in Kogi state suf­fices con­crete ev­i­dence to con­vince re­jecters of truth.

The Daily Trust edi­tion of Mon­day Oc­to­ber 23, 2017 re­ports that a 54-year-old direc­tor serv­ing ser­vants, but Edozien isn’t a ca­reer civil ser­vant and shouldn’t be a per­ma­nent sec­re­tary, ac­cord­ing to the Daily Trust of Oc­to­ber 20, 2017, which said “highly placed of­fi­cials in the pres­i­dency fa­cil­i­tated” this rape of jus­tice.Sa­haraRe­porters of Oc­to­ber 12, 2017 was blunter: “Mr. Edozien is a friend and busi­ness part­ner to Mr. [Abba] Kyari,” it wrote.“The Chief of Staff ’s daugh­ter also worked di­rectly un­der Mr. Edozien.”

In­ter­est­ingly, although the pres­i­dent re­versed the dis­missal of Mrs. Mo­hammed af­ter she wrote to him di­rectly, Abba Kyari al­legedly over­ruled the pres­i­dent and, the woman, who is the mother of or­phans, is still un­em­ployed. In many re­spects, this eclipses the im­punity and scan­dalous­ness of Maina’s re­in­state­ment and pro­mo­tion.

There is also the case of a Chief Reg­is­trar of the Supreme Court by the name of Ahmed Gambo Saleh who, along with two oth­ers, was charged with a N2.2 bil­lion fraud on Novem­ber 3, 2016. “The de­fen­dants are specif­i­cally ac­cused of con­spir­acy, crim­i­nal breach of trust and tak­ing grat­i­fi­ca­tion by Pub­lic of­fi­cers con­trary to Sec­tion 10 (a) (i) of the In­de­pen­dent Cor­rupt Prac­tices and other re­lated Of­fences Act 2000 and pun­ish­able un­der the same sec­tion of the Act,” ac­cord­ing to the­Sun of Novem­ber 4, 2016. with the Kogi state Teach­ing Ser­vice Com­mis­sion iden­ti­fied as Ed­ward Soje com­mit­ted sui­cide by hang­ing him­self in Lokoja. The in­ci­dent was said to have oc­curred barely 10 days af­ter Soje’s wife was de­liv­ered of a set of triplets. The direc­tor, be­fore he com­mit­ted sui­cide, was owed 11 months of un­paid salaries even though Kogi state gov­ern­ment quoted 9 months.

No state gover­nor in a pres­i­den­tial sys­tem gets into of­fice with­out con­test­ing in an elec­tion. To be­come a gover­nor or get into any elec­tive po­si­tion is there­fore a mat­ter of choice. Be­fore the elec­tion, too, demo­cratic cul­ture re­quires him, as a gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date, to ask the elec­torate to entrust him with their af­fairs. An as­pi­rant who won in a gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion must, thus, have earned the trust and con­fi­dence of ma­jor­ity of vot­ers in his state to pre­side over their af­fairs. Like every lead­er­ship po­si­tion, the man­date given to gov­er­nors is there­fore a Trust; from man, and from God.

Trust, in Qur’anic def­i­ni­tions, is some­thing given to a per­son over which he has a power of dis­po­si­tion. He is ex­pected to use it as di­rected or ex­pected even though he has the pre­rog­a­tive to use it oth­er­wise. Thus, it can­not be de­scribed as Trust if the

The same Saleh who hasn’t (yet) been ab­solved from the charges against him was ap­pointed Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary of the Na­tional Ju­di­cial Coun­cil (NJC) on July 1, 2017. I know it’s tech­ni­cally out­side the pow­ers of the pres­i­dent to in­ter­vene in is­sues in­volv­ing another branch of gov­ern­ment, but we all know that the noc­tur­nal bust of the homes of judges, in­clud­ing Supreme Court jus­tices, by Nige­ria’s se­cret po­lice in Oc­to­ber 2016 had a stark, un­mis­tak­able pres­i­den­tial im­pri­matur em­bla­zoned all over it.

There is another “Maina” serv­ing as a min­is­ter in Buhari’s cabi­net. Ac­cord­ing to the Pre­mium Times of Oc­to­ber 26, 2016,Buhari’s Min­is­ter of Niger Delta Af­fairs, UsaniUsani, “was charged with fraud 15 years ago, af­ter he was in­dicted in 2000 by the gov­ern­ment of Cross River State where he served as a com­mis­sioner.” His in­dict­ment, the pa­per added, “is doc­u­mented in a state gov­ern­ment White Pa­per.” It can’t get any more em­pir­i­cally ver­i­fi­able than that. Yet the man still serves as a min­is­ter in a gov­ern­ment that bills it­self as an “anti-cor­rup­tion” gov­ern­ment.

The list goes on, but I’ll stop here be­cause of the con­straints of space and time. It is ironic that a gov­ern­ment with this depth and breadth of love af­fair with cor­rupt peo­ple has the chutz­pah to talk about “fight­ing cor­rup­tion.”But the clear­est sign that this gov­ern­ment is a joke and that it’s “anti-cor­rup­tion” fight is an even big­ger joke came on Oc­to­ber 25 whena pres­i­den­tial news re­lease blamed “in­vis­i­ble hands” from the Good­luck Jonathan ad­min­is­tra­tion for the Maina em­bar­rass­ment.

“[S]ome in­flu­en­tial of­fi­cials loyal to the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment may have been the in­vis­i­ble hand in the lat­est scan­dal that saw the re­turn of Maina trus­tee lacks power over the ob­ject of Trust. Sim­i­larly, Trust would have been be­trayed if its’ ex­er­cise by the trus­tee con­tra­venes the wish of the cre­ator of the Trust.

As il­lus­trated in Qur’an 33:73, the ex­tent to which a trus­tee han­dles the Trust given to him strength­ens the bond be­tween him and the cre­ator of the Trust. If he man­ages it eq­ui­tably, he be­comes closer to Al­lah (SWT) and en­ters the fold of those de­scribed in the holy Qur’an as al-Muqarrabun. In the case of gov­er­nors, the pious trus­tees among them be­come dearer to the elec­torate. While a be­trayer of Trust, on the other hand, earns Al­lah’s pun­ish­ment; failed trus­tees de­scribed by the Qur’an as al-Mu­nafiqun earn the anger of the elec­torate.

Gen­er­ally, Trust is a bur­den be­cause of the temp­ta­tions in­her­ent in the at­tempt to up­hold it. Trust is even more tempt­ing when the ob­ject of Trust con­cerns power, money or women. Only the ex­cep­tion­ally God­fear­ing would, at all cost, strive to re­sist the per­sua­sions of th­ese three non-al­co­holic in­tox­i­cants. This was why crea­tures other than man chose not to ac­cept the Trust of­fered them by Al­lah (SWT); lest they should be­tray it. Un­like man, It was a wise choice that the heav­ens and the earth pre­ferred to re­main with­out a choice be­tween good and evil. Like the an­gels, those crea­tures chose to sub­mit their bid­ding en­tirely to Al­lah (SWT)’s will; which is all-per­fect.

When it was man’s turn to ac­cept or re­ject the huge re­spon­si­bil­ity in Trust, he was too ig­no­rant to re­alise the dis­cern­ment in the choice made to the pub­lic ser­vice, de­spite be­ing on the EFCC’s wanted list,” the state­ment said.

When I first read it on a list­serv on Wed­nes­day, I thought it was a spoof and let out a burst of deep, loud, hearty laugh­ter. I said it was im­pos­si­ble for this to be true un­til I read it in re­spected tra­di­tional news out­lets. I give up. The bat­tle has been lost ir­re­triev­ably.

Buhari’s Com­mend­able Bi­afra Ges­ture

News that Buhari has ap­proved the pay­ment of pen­sion to ex-Bi­afran po­lice of­fi­cers who served on the rebel side dur­ing Nige­ria’s 30-month Civil War from 1967 to 1970 is heart­en­ing. It is lit­tle sym­bolic ges­tures like this that nur­ture na­tional co­he­sion.

Na­tional co­he­sion won’t mag­i­cally emerge out of thin air be­cause some leader pro­claimed that Nige­ria’s unity is “set­tled” and “non­nego­tiable”-or that the ques­tion of Nige­ria’s unity had been set­tled with some rebel leader at a pri­vate meet­ing. Na­tion-build­ing is never “set­tled” and is al­ways in a state of ne­go­ti­a­tion and rene­go­ti­a­tion.

Unity is con­sciously sowed, wa­tered, and nour­ished by acts of kind­ness to the dis­ad­van­taged, by eq­uity and jus­tice to all, by con­sen­sus­build­ing, by de­lib­er­ate heal­ing of the ex­is­ten­tial wounds that nat­u­rally emerge in our in­ter­ac­tions are con­stituents of a com­mon na­tional space, and by ac­knowl­edg­ing and work­ing to cover our eth­nic, re­li­gious, re­gional, and cul­tural fis­sures.

If Buhari, from the in­cip­i­ence of his pres­i­dency, had of­fered this sort of olive branch to parts of Nige­ria that didn’t vote for him, we won’t have the cur­rent im­mo­bi­liz­ing­fis­si­par­ity that is threat­en­ing to tear down the very foun­da­tion of the coun­try. But it’s never too late to do the right thing. by the heav­ens and the earth. Al­lah (SWT) tells us in Qur’an 33:72 that when Trust was of­fered to the heav­ens, the earth and the moun­tains, they (out of the fear of the tempt­ing bur­den that could lead to be­trayal) re­fused to ac­cept the re­spon­si­bil­ity. Amaz­ingly and au­da­ciously, man ac­cepted the charge. By this ac­tion of man, Al­lah (SWT) in the same verse de­scribes him as fool­ish and un­just. This de­scrip­tion per­fectly fits man’s typ­i­cal na­ture.

To­day, many Nige­ri­ans be­lieve that most state gov­er­nors, af­ter more than two years in power, have failed to jus­tify the free-ride they en­joyed on the Tsunamic ark of Buhari that sailed them into of­fice. Some APC gov­er­nors do not even seem to be on the same page with Pres­i­dent Buhari in terms of gen­uine con­cerns for the plight of the masses in­clud­ing work­ers. Even if kid­nap­pers were to in­vade the en­tire state, or schools re­main closed for year­sor doc­torsgo on strike for 12 months, a gover­nor who re­fuses to con­sider Trust as a bur­den will not only have sound sleep but will in­deed snore whileslum­ber­ing.

This col­umn calls on gov­er­nors to fear Al­lah (SWT) and con­sci­en­tiously ad­dress the ex­i­gen­cies of Trust. They should strive to be among the Muqarabun by set­tling en­ti­tle­ments of work­ers and pen­sion­ers as well as im­prov­ing the lot of other Nige­ri­ans they vowed in their oath of of­fice to care for and pro­tect. May Al­lah (SWT) guide our gov­er­nors to re­alise the con­se­quences of be­tray­ing a self­in­d­uced Trust, amin.

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