FOR some time now, Engineer Babachir David Lawal, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, has been under unjust and mischievous media propaganda calculated to taint his decent character and leadership pedigree as one of Nigeria’s finest democrats. A man who elected to run a marathon with President Mohammad Buhari when it was most convenient for ‘brief case contractors’ to shout “Power to the people” and corruptly smile to the bank.
It has been alleged, though without regards to verifiable evidence, truth, reason and good conscience, that the SGF is involved in an alleged ‘huge, juicy but very corrupt grass-cutting contract’ said to have been awarded by the Presidential Initiative on the North East, PINE, to Rholavision – a company founded and previously managed by the SGF.
Without a shred of convincing evidence, Babachir’s traducers hold firm that as at when Rholavision was awarded the said contract, he (Babachir) doubled as an active Managing Director of the company and the SGF. The meat and marrow of their case against him is that by these, he broke the law and certain standard ethical rules on conflict of interests for which he deserves immediate punitive sanctions by Mr. President and penal sanctions under the law.
They argue that in this ‘era of change’, Babachir has become unfit to continue as SGF under a generally accepted whistle-clean President Buhari. One cannot but forcefully disagree with the SGF’s adversaries on grounds of facts, reason, and good conscience because facts are scared; logic makes reason; and good conscience is food for good souls.
First, it is a fact that the SGF – Babachir Lawal – resigned as a Director (Managing Director) of Rholavision on August 28, 2015 upon his appointment as SGF by Mr. President. Although his adversaries want the public to believe the contrary, they could only procure a 2013 “Form CAC 2” from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, as evidence. This is because there is no document in the CAC to factually confirm that the SGF remained as a Director of Rholavision after August 28, 2015. Indeed, the copy of the “Form CAC7” (as at August 2015) they obtained and published in respect of Rholavision testifies credibly against their mischief because it confirms that the SGF is no longer a Director of the company. Yet, they insist to a most irrational extent that, based on the 2013 Form CAC 2, the SGF is a sort of a ‘Life Managing Director’ of Rholavision.
Without question, it is disingenuous and dubious for anyone to procure a document dated 2013 to justify an alleged offence or infraction that is of only 2015 relevance! Or are they suggesting Babachir was not qualified to occupy the position of the Managing Director of Rholavision in 2013? After all, Babachir was then just a private citizen who, conscientiously strategised with like minds under Mr. President’s courageous leadership. To take this patriotic role as an unforgivable offence by the SGF and therefore go after him so viciously in the media on this account is an unacceptable waste of attempt.
While it will be naïve to assume that some of his wounded and bitter adversaries would not seek revenge against SGF Babachir for his past role and continuing principled stance, their resort to dubious ‘evidence’ against the SGF speaks to determined wickedness against an innocent man. Shouldn’t there be solemn moments when even satanic men prick their dark consciences to repent and leave good men alone? Maybe not, but then, good men must resist evil to prevail.
Clearly, the allegation that Babachir doubled as SGF and the Managing Director of Rholavision was intended to falsely give vent to the notion of conflict of interest. Being false, it must be buried. Also, heavy weather has been made that Rholavision allegedly received hundreds of Millions of Naira for the PINE contract in question. This is a lie intended to create the impression that the SGF (doubling as Managing Director of Rholavision), received such monies. But the fact is, by its January 14, 2016 Contract Award Letter referenced PINE/PR/CON/029, Rholavision was awarded a ‘consultancy’ contract for a total sum of N7,009,516.96K only.
That is, the whole ‘SGF-Rholavision’ brouhaha is predicated on a seven Million Naira contract which PINE awarded to Rholavision (not SGF as a person). A contract that complied with every stated element of due process in the books. Yet, mischief makers are creating an alternative reality! Where is honour and good conscience?
Fundamentally, it would be fair to ask whether Rholavision executed its SEVEN MILLION NAIRA consultancy contract to justify any payment it may have received from PINE. As consultants on the project who were very conscious of maintaining their reputation (which made the various communities to insist on their involvement in the project, in the first place), Rholavision ensured that the main contractors reclaimed 115,000 Hectares of farmlands by removing invasive river bushes and weeds on 165 Kilometres of rivers along the 400 Kilometres Jigawa-Yobe-Kamangu River-Lake Chad Basin stretch. Also, Rholavision, as consultants, guaranteed that the main contractors: provided 115 water borehole systems for irrigation of the reclaimed farmland; supplied 48 fishing canoes (with fishing nets), 27 motorised boats and 48 marine engines to communities on the stretch with a pick-up van for monitoring improvements in farming and fishing along the stretch. As envisaged under the contract, Rholavision also ensured that the contractors laid irrigation pipes across the 115,000 Hectares of reclaimed farmlands.
It should be clear to any discerning mind that the main contract was intended to help the North East come back forcefully to better and improved crop and fish farming. A sensible person will not argue against it. It is irresponsible to label this most important initiative to revive farming on such a large scale as a ‘grass-cutting’ jamboree. Such sarcasm is childish for a project that is a thoughtful step to make the reclaimed farmlands active ‘food baskets’ for the North-East region and the nation at large. Attempting to dent Rholavision’s hard-earned reputation for honouring its contractual obligations to PINE and bringing the innocent SGF into that petty ‘pull him down’ game is both whimsical and libelously criminal.
In all of these, it is not a surprise that, having seen beyond the veil, Mr. President outrightly rejected the ill motives spurring some rascally elements whose unholy business-as-usual beneficial and political interests may be severely threatened by the decent character and principled personality of the SGF. To say that SGF Babachir who, for about 16 years, has consistently sided with Buhari’s honest politics of ‘decent poverty’ rather than ‘corrupt wealth’ is now suddenly a man of abominable financial impropriety, is just thoughtless, below the pale and wicked.
Honest Nigerians are well known. Babachir David Lawal is unquestionably one of them. This tyranny of defeated political wolves who are determined to devour the truth and a good man with it will go nowhere.
Mr. Henry George , a lawyer, wrote from Warri, Delta State.