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MainaGate and a Presidency working in disarray

*Garba Shehu so unkind to his boss

From Jubrin Ibrahim

My good friend Garba Shehu made what would have been the joke of the year on Wednesday but the theme was too serious to be funny. He blamed the Goodluck Jonathan administration for the unfolding scandal on the corruption, escape, return, reinstatement and second escape from the country of Abdulrasheed Maina of the pension scam fame. His exact words were: “some influential officials loyal to the previous government may have been the invincible hands” behind the scandal. Disarray describes the position of government.

It’s not funny because the names of the key agents in the affair, 2017 phase, are known and include the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Interior, General Dambazzau, the Head of Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita and the heads of the DSS and the Public Service Commission. If all these people who worked on reinstating Maina in the public service are agents of former President Goodluck Jonathan then there are serious questions to answer. He is saying that Buhari is a puppet of Jonathan.

How can Garba Shehu be so unkind to his boss? Of course the work of a spokesperson is to pivot responsibility for misdeeds of the boss away from him and blame someone else. But Nigeria is Nigeria and the various letters and directives concerning the affair are already in the public domain so the “pivot away” approach cannot work, the issue of responsibility, or rather, irresponsibility must be addressed immediately as this might well be the worst scandal involving the Buhari Administration so far.

I thought President Buhari got this point when he instructed the Head of Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita to submit a report on the issue before the close of work on Monday. The impression that was created was that by Tuesday, there will be explanations and the process of dealing with guilty parties would be revealed. The report was submitted to the president’s office on Monday as directed but nothing has been said on the matter so far.

This is unacceptable, especially within the context of the total non-action by the President on the report of the investigation on alleged corruption by the former Secretary of the Government and Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, which has been on his desk for over six months. The words on everyone’s lips in the country today are that the President is incapable of acting against friends and close associates involved in corruption. I have been hoping and praying that this cannot be true of the no nonsense Head of State that jailed the entire political class in the country for corruption that January 1984. Are we talking of the same human being?

Maybe Maina knows something about this presidency that we do not for how else should we understand the press conference by his family in which they threatened to expose the cabal at the presidency who they alleged are responsible for the ordeal Maina is going through over his return to the country and the civil service. They claimed that their beloved brother Abdulraaheed Maina was invited back to Nigeria by the Muhammadu Buhari Government to help his administration. They directly threatened what they called the cabal around the President and warned that they would expose them.

According to exclusive reports from Premium Times, which broke the MainaGate story, the State Security Service (SSS), once made curious huge cash transfers into a bank account associated with a former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina. In addition, Maina had been receiving security protection from the Nigeria Police Force and the SSS while he was at the same time a fugitive from justice on the list of the most wanted criminals being sought for by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. They had been hunting for him to charge him to court for alleged N2 billion fraud.

The incoherence and lack of cohesiveness of the present government has clearly reached epic proportions. It would be recalled that the attempt by the President to get Ibrahim Magu confirmed by the Senate as Director General of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was vehemently opposed by his Director General of State Security Service. In any other jurisdiction in the world, the presidential verdict would have been insubordination and the outcome would have been immediate dismissal. There is just too much that we do not understand about this administration.

In their press conference, Maina’s family claim that, “we are aware that all this act of calumny is not targeted against Abdulrasheed Maina alone but against the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria and the office of the Attorney General…  We equally know that Abdulrasheed Maina is in possession of many facts that is against the cabal and interesting to the Nigerian populace, which he will disclose very soon.”

As we await these additional revelations, what I find stupefying is that the President would not speak or act on all these issues giving the world the impression that he does not care about his reputation and credibility. This non-response and non-action is simply unacceptable. The lame response from the President’s office that people planted by the Jonathan Administration are still in office is the height of radicle.

The President campaigned on the platform of removing Goodluck Jonathan and his corrupt officials from power and replacing them with people of integrity. As he approaches the end phase of his tenure, the argument cannot be made that these people are still in office. They are simply in disarray. The verdict of history can only be that President Buhari found President’s Jonathan’s implants in the administration so indispensable that he comforted them in their positions and allowed them to continue what they had been doing.

If the 2013 decision on not prosecuting and/clearing and re-installing Maina is implemented by the highest officials of the Buhari Administration in 2017, the only possible explanation is that this regime now accepts what the previous regime was doing should continue.

Most Nigerians would agree with the idea that President Buhari is a man of integrity and honesty who is keen to intensify the war against corruption. Most Nigerians are however asking themselves the question why he would not act against corruption by those around him. As the campaign for the next elections intensify, whether or not the President contests for a second term, Nigerians would be bound to ask embarrassing questions about Muhammadu Buhari, the apostle of change and his party the All Peoples Congress. What happened to the pledge and promise made to Nigerians? In disarray too?

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