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