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Mainagate, Buhari’s tipping point – Ochereome Nnanna

DID you notice? Before President Muhammadu Buhari finally reluctantly sacked the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation , SGF), David Babachir Lawal (“heh-heh, who is the Presidency”) and Director General of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ayo Oke, the Abdulrasheed Maina scandal had the Presidency in knots.

Buhari & Maina

For Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, mum was the word. Femi Adesina became tongue-tied. But the impulsive ones among them could not hold themselves in check. Garba Shehu, who is now a notable crap-talker, blamed the People’s Democratic Party, PDP,  for bringing back Maina through the backdoor into the civil service. Okoi Obono Obla, the President’s Special Assistant on Prosecutions, went on television and spoke against his own logic that Buhari’s appointees who are accused of corruption are still on their jobs because they have not been convicted by any courts. He had strenuously argued against this point when the security agencies had conducted their midnight “sting operations” against some judges last year.

Even the usually tongue-tied and obdurate Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs, Hameed Ali, “joined mouths” with Garba Shehu in blaming PDP for the corruption scandals that have engulfed Buhari’s government. Before we even go further, let’s examine the absurdity, if not asininity, of this allegation.

The names being mentioned in connection with Maina’s sneak reinstatement and double promotion are Buhari’s core party men: Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice who reportedly wrote the Head of Service, Winifred Oyo Ita, instructing her to effect the re-absorption of Maina; Abdulrahman Danbazzau, the Minister of the Interior, in whose ministry Maina was posted to and the “Lion King” himself, Muhammadu Buhari, whom Oyo Ita openly disclosed, “knew” about Maina’s reinstatement, adding: “I warned him”. Who can be more “Buharist” than Buhari himself? Not a single one of them came from the “new” PDP clan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) amalgam. Pray, how can anyone in his right senses describe them as “PDP” people?

Even if they were of the old PDP, they are no longer there now. They left over three years ago. And it was their movement into the APC that turned it into a platform that could depose the former incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, at the polls in 2015. Apart from a few of them like Chibuike Amaechi who provided the critical funds that helped the party to win, they are not accommodated in Buhari’s cabinet. Those appointed to the boards of federal parastatals by the past regime have since been flushed out and replaced with APC members (except, of course, for those of them who quickly turned coats).

Buhari had made it clear he would consider those who “suffered” with him in his fourteen years of futile presidential aspiration. He surrounded himself with them. And true to the nature of politicians, they have been helping themselves to the spoils of their victory. This is where the corruption is coming from. For them to turn around and blame PDP for their own corruption shows just how “intelligent” these Buharists are (or how stupid they think Nigerians are).

Tales of corruption have been swirling within the Buhari government almost from Day One. But the regime and its agents chose to pursue only elements of the Jonathan regime whom they accused of “looting” the treasury. The shallow one-sidedness of the Buhari anti-graft war has become so obvious that even an APC stalwart who still has conscience, Senator Shehu Sani, described the effort as “insecticides” for the opposition and “deodorants” for Buhari’s untouchable sacred cows.

For nearly thirty months of the Buhari second coming to the Presidency, some of his supporters continued to invest an outside hope that he would wake up and recharge his avowed anti-graft war. His illness can no longer be given as an excuse. He looks fifteen years younger than his age now. I wonder the magic Buhari’s doctors did to restore him from a man waiting for the shrouds to a man now full of health with his old age seemingly reversed? That is another story waiting to be told. Age and ill-health are no longer obstacles in the way of President Buhari to run an effective government and deliver his campaign promises. Everybody now knows he is warming up for the rigours of his second term electioneering activities come next year.

For a long time, Buhari had foot-dragged on most elements of his campaign promises. Apart from failing to act decisively to check the burgeoning corruption in his inner government, the only aspect of security that progress has been made is the war on Boko Haram. But as we count the gains of that, we also count the grim havoc being wreaked by the Fulani herdsmen who, under Buhari’s watch, have become the world’s third most dreaded killing machine.

I will not applaud Buhari for sacking Lawal and Oke. He was pushed to take action through intense public opinion and the imperatives of the unfolding atmosphere surround his second term ambition. The Maina scandal provided what the French call le point de basculement or the tipping point. Mainagate is the clearest evidence that the war on graf for which Buhari got the support of millions, especially in the South, has been lost irretrievably, or perhaps it was never really meant to be in the real sense

I have always said that the war on graft was part of the grand design to consign the PDP to the dustbin of history and enthrone Buharism as the new political order. While its enemies were chased with military, DSS, Police, Economic and Financial Crimes, EFCC, operatives and virulent propaganda, Buhari’s political cubs were given the licence to sweep our national patrimony. That way, Buhari and those who would succeed him in the future would no longer need “outside help” to bestride the political firmament of the nation till kingdom come.


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