Re Mustapha Kolo
It is common knowledge and several events have proven that when you fight corruption anywhere in the world, corruption fights back with great intensity. This especially applies to Nigeria where the same people who fleece poor Nigerians of their future disguise as saints and cry to the highest heavens whenever there is an attempt to bring them to justice for their misdeeds.
And so, it was not surprising when an article titled, “2019: Permutations House Speaker may contest”, written by one …… appeared in the Vanguard newspapers of May 7, 2018.
One does not need to read beyond the second paragraph to know where the writer was heading, but there is no need to join issues with him as he is only exercising his right to express himself as guaranteed in the Constitution.
However, it is pertinent to correct the lies that are embedded in his article in order not to mislead the public.
For starters, Speaker Yakubu Dogara earned his place as a member of the House of Representatives when his constituents voted him for the third time to represent them. The same virtues that made him worthy of his reelection also gave him favour among his colleagues who, against tough opposition, elected him as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
A person who “burns bridges” as claimed by James Adamu, does not enjoy as much goodwill as Hon Dogara enjoyed and continues to enjoy on his political sojourn.
The writer tried to weave an intricate web of connection between the governor of Bauchi State, M. A Abubakar, the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Engr Mustapha Maihaja and Speaker Dogara but he failed woefully.
Let it be known that the Speaker shares mutual friends with the governor of Bauchi State and some of them occupy high positions in Nigeria, why then will he single out Maihaja to get back at the Governor of Bauchi State?
It is preposterous to create a link between these three and this clearly exists only in the imagination of the writer. We are however, grateful to the writer who has now revealed the so called relationship that he said exists between the Bauchi Governor and Maihaja. And this will surely help to expose all those who may have a hand in the scandal in NEMA.
The Speaker is known for not holding grudges against people who offend him, his forgiving spirit is one of his greatest attributes and since the writer mentioned it, Hon Gbajabiamila and his supporters have since been embraced by the Speaker and in fact, these people are very much part of his team working to achieve the agenda of the 8th Assembly of the House of Representatives. In fact, Hon Wayo who sponsored the motion was a staunch supporter of Hon Gbajabiamila in the Speakership election.
One wonders why …….. as a problem with the investigation of the current management of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) over allegations of mismanagement and lack of due process in the handling of relief materials for flood victims and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), among others because nothing calls for an inquiry more than cries of displaced Nigerians who have not been able to get any aid from government despite huge sums of money released by the government to alleviate their sufferings.
It was in response to petitions against the agency that on February 15, 2018, the House, through a motion of urgent national importance, mandated its committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness to investigate NEMA over alleged diversion of N19.4 billion relief materials and funds for victims of disasters.
Sponsor of the motion, Benjamin Wayo from Benue State, said the funds were meant for hunger intervention in the North-east and food intervention across the country. He explained that available records showed that the funds were illegally siphoned by officials of the agency through dubious award of contracts without delivering relief items to the victims.
The committee presided over by the deputy chairman, Hon Ali Isa, commenced an investigative hearing on the matter on March 21.
How then did Speaker Yakubu Dogara plot against the fall of Maihaja? If he had proposed a witch-hunt, which, in any case, is inconceivable, the House would not have ensured that the general public could follow proceedings of the investigation via live broadcast. A witch-hunt will work better when the hearing is done in secrecy. So far, three of the investigative hearings have been televised live on NTA.
One question the writer needs to answer is who else would have been summoned to give account for alleged misapplication of funds if not the Director General of NEMA. He certainly has questions to answer as the chief superintendent and accounting officer of the agency. He has questions to answer on the N1.6bn released to the agency in July last year to procure relief materials for victims of flood in 16 states of the federation last year.
He has questions to answer on why most of the 289 companies engaged to supply the relief materials did not meet the relevant laws of the land, he has questions to answer on the circumstances that led to the suspension of six management staff of the agency on April 4, he has questions to answer on the 6,779 metric tonnes of rice donated by Chinese government to internally displaced persons in the north east.
The same rice that the agency paid N414 million naira on demurrage and an additional N161 million to transport without evidence to show they were delivered. He has questions to answer on why he awarded N3bn rice contract to ‘unqualified’ firms and the N5bn North-east intervention fund.
To answer the posers thrown in the writer’s article, the investigation came up as a result of the need to find out the truth in allegations that NEMA management is not following due process in their dealings and other issues that are related to sharp practices, the mandate for the probe was gotten from the Nigerian people who members of the House of Representatives represent in the National Assembly and the objective is to unravel the truth or otherwise in the allegations and recommend for sanctions where necessary.
Hon Yakubu Dogara has always stood for truth, justice and fairness and these have endeared him to so many people, including his opposition.
The House is not the speaker the speaker is not the House and I will advise the NEMA boss to deal with glaring cases of fraud and corruption against him and leave the Speaker out of the matter.
It is on record that Hon Dogara has said time without number that he has no interest in running for the Bauchi state governorship in 2019 and has not changed his mind on this.
I wish to conclude by reminding the faceless Adamu and indeed his pay masters that from the humongous revelations of alleged fraud emanating from the House investigation, the grass cutting scandal that consumed former SGF Babachir David Lawal was a child’s play and the House should get to the end of the matter and ensure Maihaja is not only sacked but also jailed. Let’s hope that the faceless Adamu is not one of the beneficiaries of the fraudulent contracts that are being investigated and is working to divert attention from the revelations of monumental fraud because sooner rather than later, the long arms of the law will surely catch up with him for our sake and that of our family members and other poor and innocent Nigerians who on account of corruption and systemic failure are dying of hunger and starvation in IDP camps across the country.
Kolo wrote in from Pompamari, Maiduguri, Borno State.