By Dele Sobowale
On an occasion such as this in our national life when unprecedented events occur daily, it requires two words of wisdom from down the ages to assist us in understanding the position in which we find ourselves. Mr Lawal Daura, the Director-General of the Department of State Services, DSS, and Mr Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have done what no two public servants have ever done before. They have divided the nation into two camps and just about have almost all of us at daggers-drawn on account of their well-publicised differences which has diminished the President of Nigeria,w as nothing else has ever done since we started experimenting with democracy in 1959.
However, before proceeding to explain the depth of paralysis of governance which those two characters have induced, forcing even ordinarily level-headed leaders of thought into two warring camps, permit me to point out one individual who is against both. As far as I am concerned they should both go. None of them is indispensable and there is no reason anybody should take the attitude that they are. In fact getting rid of the two might be the simplest and fairest solution to the bedlam they have created in the polity. None of them is worth the trouble. Why? Then follow me down a short history of our era.
In December 2015, writing under the title “Is the DSS Misleading Buhari and leading Nigeria into Political Crisis?”, the point was made then that unless President Buhari cautions his nephew as DG-DSS, the man may eventually lead the nation into a political crisis because of the weight of his responsibilities and how he deals with innocent individuals. Four examples were provided. But, only one will be sufficient to illustrate what some people are describing as the growing challenge of the DSS (per credibility) since 2015.
Nigerians would recall early in the life of this government how the DSS raided the Akwa Ibom Government House in Uyo and thereafter announced the discovery of large consignment of arms and ammunition as well as foreign and Nigerian currencies. Nothing was ever heard about the matter since then. Why? Because it was never substantiated.
The DSS just went out of its way to attempt to discredit the PDP Government of Akwa Ibom State, the current Governor and the immediate past Governor – Godswill Akpabio. There are at least six other examples to prove the point that the DSS is turning into something on which the President, the National Assembly, the Judiciary or the Fourth State of the Realm (i.e media) may not want to rely. The organisation, as it now operates, runs the risk of being viewed as a Gestapo. But, Buhari tolerated it and now it has led us into the political crisis my December 2015 article tried to avoid. Why?
The answer is partly simple. Daura is Buhari’s nephew. There was another Daura in his government between January 1984 and August 1985. It would appear that the Dauras will always have a seat on any Buhari administration. Nepotism has no other definition. However, suggesting that Daura is not always telling the truth does not imply that his message about Magu should be discarded. Condemning one does not automatically mean supporting the other.
That is the mistake that some of the most advanced thinkers in Nigeria today are making. I am talking about people like Professor Sagay and Femi Falana as well as most of my colleagues in the media. As far as I am concerned, it matters not when the information about reprehensible conduct by a prospective EFCC Chairman surfaces and who is the whistle-blower. We still must address the question: is the individual responsible for these acts fit to be EFCC Chairman? Granted, it has been said that “Truth that’s told with a bad intent/ Beats all the lies you can invent.” (William Blake, 1757-1827). But, if those allegations against Magu are true, then he is totally unfit to be EFCC Chairman.
What distresses me is the fact that the supporters of Daura and Magu want to pick and choose whose atrocious conduct to punish and which to forgive. That is totally unethical. I forgive none. They both must go and let’s have peace – even if it is not absolute or perpetual.
That said, there is still an issue to address. One of the enduring lessons learnt in my MBA class, 1969-1970, was about people and how those who get in their cars and go home at night are the most valuable assets of any organisation. No Chief Executive Officer, CEO, in public or private sector should allow sentiments get in the way of his selection of subordinates. In the language of football, a CEO must force everybody to fight for his place on the team and there should be no untouchables. A CEO who starts his team selection from his own household or his family or home town or clan has already lost the game. Defeat is only waiting to be announced later. Invariably, such leaders end up getting entangled in their own under-wears. How? Let me explain.
Everybody has heard of the fellow who has to choose between his loving mother and his darling wife who are at logger-heads and dragging the poor fellow both ways. The mother gave him what is in his under-wear at birth; he gave it to his wife when they got hitched. Both obviously have legitimate claims and the dispute is hardly ever satisfactorily resolved. A CEO, who packs his organisation with relatives and his associates is getting himself entangled in the underwear anytime two or more individuals are involved in conflict and each wanting the helmsman to decide in his favour – just like mother and wife. Buhari apparently lacks the courage to say “No victor, no vanquished, the two officers – Daura and Magu – must go”.
Buhari should dial back to the earliest days of his administration and go over the list of appointments made and when. It might shock him to realise that he made over fourteen appointments with only two or three outside his circle of relatives and associates. The seeds of discord and conflict were sown within the first month in office.
When Horace remarked that “For every folly of their princes, the Greeks feel the lash”, the great philosopher might as well be speaking of Nigeria today. We are in the current paralysis of governance on account of Buhari’s men; many of who don’t deserve to be there in the first place and the results are showing. Let anyone take out the list of the first twenty appointees of this government and ask the question: will anyone of them be missed if he goes today? The answer will be shocking. And, that shock carries with it a verdict on Buhari’s sense of judgment about people. The least a CEO is expected to do is to select a team that would do the entity – company, nation etc – no harm. Buhari’s men are killing us literally by holding back progress.
In 2011, I worked for Buhari without reservation; I repeated in 2014-15. I did it because I honestly believed he could lead us well. There are still two years left on this term. But, if the Dauras and Magus and others too numerous to mention will continue to run the government, then, it is time to say goodbye.
SO YOU WANT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT OR GOVERNOR IN 2019? — 2
“Alliances are held together by fear not by love.” Harold Macmillan.
Everybody with his head screwed on straight knows that wreckers have demolished the PDP. Unknown to most is the fact that the alliance called All Progressives Congress, APC, is also finished. The coalition was born out of reasonable fear that none of them alone could defeat the PDP even as unpopular as it was in 2015. With the PDP gone, the fear is gone and the members of the coalition have turned on each other with venom. At last count, there are at least four factions of APC.
That is what has created the opportunities for those wanting to contest for posts in 2019. You don’t know how? Just get in touch. There is vacancy even in the Rock.
Daura/Magu as metaphor for self-induced paralysis under Buhari – 2
“Some of the senators also asked the party leadership to ensure that Saraki’s trial at the CCT was stopped as this would be the perfect way to reconcile the two arms of government.” a national daily on April 5, 2017.
The leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, minus Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, went to the National Assembly on April 4, 2017 to meet with APC senators separately in a bid to end the noticeable stalemate which is paralyzing the work of government and tearing the nation apart. The Daura/Magu tango as it turned out is only the tip of the iceberg with respect to a lot of grievances the senators have against the executive branch. Consider this statement.
“We told the leadership of our party that political appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari were using the media against us, especially Magu. We stated to them that Magu was brought in dead; that what we did was to only conduct his funeral.” Obviously Magu was a victim of his most vocal admirers – the media, activists and Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, like Sagay and Falana. They have brought an end to a prospective great career. “God save me from my “friends”…”.
But, the senators, like those who murdered Caesar, needed an alibi to justify the dagger thrusts. In came Mr Daura to provide the excuse. And, now the senators have gone beyond frustrating the President’s efforts to get Magu confirmed; they have now issued an ultimatum. In the language of the American Mafia, They have openly made the leadership of the APC an offer which they think the President cannot refuse.
“Drop cases against Saraki or else….”. Anybody who for one moment thinks that Saraki is the only senator who will benefit from that amnesty must have rocks where brains are supposed to be.
Once granted it will become an all-encompassing pardon for virtually all the senators having cases in court. Thereafter, it is goodbye to all the talk about fighting corruption because the war would have been lost. As a wise person once observed about wars, the last battle is the one that counts. We might be reaching the end of the road on this one.
“Good man wrong profession.” Sam Rayburn, 1882-1961, longest serving Speaker of the US House of Representatives, when told General Dwight Eisenhower, 1890-1969, that he was going to run for President of the US.
Eisenhower actually ran and won the election, but he achieved very little. He soon discovered that civilian politics is unlike the command-and-obey structure of the armed forces. The man who once commanded the largest military forces ever assembled once said, “You know what astonishes me about the Presidency, you give an order and nothing happens.” He was not sufficiently political. The entire world is witnessing the limits of Presidential power as Donald Trump suffers one setback after another as new President – unlike his experience as head of his own business. Politics is a different ball game.
Nigerians can now see how the failure of the President to be political is doing havoc to governance. The first test of his political acumen, and that of the APC leadership, came early when contrary to the expectations of the Senate Presidency and Speaker of the house went to two individuals not selected by the leadership. It was a political coup! From that day, the National Assembly declared its independence of the Executive branch and the party leadership who only went to the Senate to receive the ultimatum. Even the “threat” issued later by the leaders to discipline anybody wanting to derail the reconciliation effort must have struck the senators as a gesture very much like trying to grab hold of air. It is futile. Incidentally, nobody seems to have noticed that even senators from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Edo, Imo, the original ACN states have not dissociated themselves from the position of their leaders. One particular senator from Lagos should have spoken out; but would not. That is politics.
What does that mean for the nation and governance?
Difficult as it might be for the so-called activists, media and SANs to accept, the senators have the upper hand and there are only three ways to resolve and the break the deadlock. Buhari and the APC leadership can start negotiating seriously bearing in mind that it is better to grant graciously what cannot otherwise be refused. That means Buhari will have to distance himself from the Sagays and Falanas and make a deal to get Magu confirmed. The second is to use force. Those asking Buhari to deal decisively with the senate forget that he has no powers under the constitution to do that and that once the senate is gone democracy goes with it. That would amount to burning the house to roast a goat. That is even worse than the first option.
“If you don’t intend having a compromise, you don’t negotiate at all.” Nelson Mandela, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 171.
The third approach, and the favoured one, calls for a mediation or settlement; done quietly and involving elder statesmen no longer in active politics (no Obasanjo please!!!) who can be called in for that purpose to iron out differences. The APC leaders could not fulfill this role because they are subordinate to the President and the other leaders of the party. This approach for settling disputes aims to achieve a win-win situation in which nobody emerges the victor or vanquished and both sides take away something valuable.
When, for instance, Sagay and Falana urge Buhari to retain Magu on the job indefinitely based on presumed constitutional provisions, they forget that with the 2017 Budget still undelivered the National Assembly can allocate any amount to the EFCC. And that too will be constitutional. What then will become of the institution severely weakened because of dispute about its Chief Executive Officer? Is one man worth the palaver?
This destructive Mexican stand-off must be broken and it cannot be with those representing the warring sides seeking to have their way on every issue in dispute. That, to me, is another form of intellectual dictatorship – nothing will move unless I have my way sort of mentality. The so called activists who went to the NASS to protest predictably achieved nothing because there is no way they can force the Senate to shift its position. I have also wondered what most of my colleagues, columnists especially, hope to achieve by raining abuses on the senators. All politicians are motivated by self-interest and we have seen how some former journalists who went into government quickly join those they once loved to denounce. Moral arrogance on our part needs to be tempered with reason if we want to help Nigeria at this time.
NIGERIA MEDIA AND FAKE NEWS ON A RANGE ROVER – 2
“Truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent. William Blake. 1757-1827.
Fourth, and this is the most important reason for my skepticism about the RANGE ROVER story, which I strongly believed was planted to damage the Senate and its President. The disclosure coming at the time the Comptroller General of the Customs was having a tough time with the Senate about his uniform suggested that somebody was raking up mud to toss at the Senators – again in full confidence that most Nigerians are too gullible to understand what is going on. Now more than ever I believe it was a plant deliberately released for the effect it has produced. Why?
Let us return to the facts provided by Mr Akindele. If the Senate paid N62.5m for the vehicle in November 2015, the Customs received the N13m duty about fifteen months ago and allowed it to go. Why was it released then when Col Ali (rtd) had no problems with the Senate which confirmed his appointment? Why the noise now that he is at logger-heads with the Senate? And, who, by the way, placed a price tag of N298m on the vehicle? After all, “A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.” (William Blake 1757-1827). Covering up crime committed in 2015 when convenient to do so, only to disclose them in 2017, when it is advantageous, is neither honest nor patriotic. Indeed it paints the individual as unfit to hold office. At any rate, most of what we have been told is outright falsehood meant to deceive fools.