A Double Standard Integrity and the Buhari Legacy, By Akin Fadeyi
And for the usual towncriers who will always cry than the bereaved, something is not right when we adopt coloured standards just so we can protect and hail our political idols. President Buhari is a human who can hit a miss and score low on occasional blunders. It is our civic responsibility to love him but to also question him.
On October 4, 2017, Nigerians woke up to a very shocking letter from the minister of state for petroleum resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu. The letter, addressed to President Buhari read in part:
“In over one year of Makanti Baru’s tenure as the GMD of NNPC, no contract has been run through the NNPC board”!
The minister listed major contracts awarded by Baru without the input of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Board, to include $10 billion crude term contracts; $5 billion direct sales direct purchase (DSDP) contracts and $3 billion AKK pipeline contract”.
After Baru responded, questioning the minister’s authority to oversee his contract award processes. Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, countered his position on October 12, 2017 declaring Maikanti Baru’s defence as peurile and his conduct, an illegality.
Here was Falana’s submission:
“The defence of the group managing director (GMD), Dr. Maikanti Baru, that he has powers to award contracts to the exclusion of the minister of state in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is illegal and violates the NNPC Act. Dr. Baru failed to recognise the provision of Section 6 (c) of the NNPC Act, which has vested the Board of the NNPC with the exclusive power to enter into contracts or partnerships with any company, firm or person which in the opinion of the Corporation will facilitate the discharge of the said duties under this Act.”
Without clobbering this issue, it was clear that Maikanti Baru was undermining the sanctity of transparency and accountability in an organisation that held pivotal responsibilities for critical oversight of the nation’s socioeconomic fabric. Coming from Buhari’s minister, Ibe Kachikwu’s letter was not just a petition; it was a bombshell insider account of irregularities in the NNPC.
What did President Buhari do? Nothing. Maikanti Baru is still GMD of NNPC.
July 2018, Nigerian Governors Forum publicised their “suspicion that the NNPC was reporting excessive petrol consumption figure to facilitate deduction of undue petrol cost from domestic crude cost”. This, they contended explains the shortfall in what NNPC remits to the Federation Account. In other words, the governors were alleging that the NNPC was shortchanging Nigeria. I do not take the governors too seriously. After all, this outcry couldn’t have been in the interest of Nigerians. It might be informed about how much they could corner more for their States. You can pointedly ask how all they collected in the past helped to elevate the lifestyle of the masses?
It is nonetheless instructive to note that the President, who Baru reports to, did nothing in demonstrating he heard the g/overnors.
Surely Mr. President “belongs to some people.”
On July 6, 2017, the minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole suspended the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf from Katsina, Buhari’s home state on allegations and petitions of fraud, executive recklessness, nepotism and high handedness. President Buhari reinstated Yusuf to a bewildered nation. I pointedly asked the minister if the president as much as sought a one on one with him to demand explanations over why Yusuf was sacked. The minister, in a collective responsibility show of loyalty, said: “My principal means well for the whole nation”. I smiled.
Did I actually have to bother since this also meant a flagrant thumb-down of the president’s deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, just to put back in play a combative, entitled and overindulged Yusuf?
On October 18, 2018, eight months after his reinstatement by Buhari, the now emboldened Yusuf allegedly commenced an unprecedented scheming and divisive leadership. He also reportedly sidelined the Board in decision-making. The NHIS Governing Council, led by Dr. Enyatu Ifenne once again suspended Yusuf on the grounds of financial infractions. He was accused amongst other things of attempting to single handedly invest NHIS’ N25 billion fund in a curious transaction that undermined the Scheme and the Nigerian nation. He was accused of same executive recklessness and nepotism. Rather than take a serious look at this repeated allegations with a view to putting his foot down to cut Yusuf to size, the president was foot-dragging until there was so much outrage from citizens. As a matter of fact, presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, made a quick dash to Channels TV in defence of Yusuf. On October 23, 2018 these were his words: “…did the Board follow due process in suspending this gentleman (Yusuf)?…No, they haven’t”.
One cannot but ask why the federal government would employ meteoric speed to brush aside damning allegations against a public official raised against him by fellow appointees of the president? Curious isn’t it? The ensuing social media frenzy where sponsored footsoldiers of Yusuf and the government went to war with those who demanded Buhari’s big stick on Yusuf was a ridiculous show of the confusion, dishonesty of purpose and contradictions that defined Buhari’s integrity mouthing and weak-fist fight against corruption. It was an ideological illusion of a house divided against itself. That Buhari’s appointed Officials could even get into “street fight” over accusations of corruption succinctly symbolises a team working at cross purposes.
And as the federal government grudgingly set up a panel of inquiry to look into the alleged infractions upon which a report was submitted on December 24, the nation is waiting with bated breath Buhari’s decision to either end Yusuf’s turbulent career or indulge him further.
On September 18, 2018, I had a fairly long phone discourse with Ordinary Ahmed Musa, the popular presenter on Brekete Family Human Rights Radio. I wanted to hear straight from him about the scandalous contract award allegation that broke out against President Buhari’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari. The gentleman was unequivocal in his conviction that the chief of staff owed Nigerians some explanation on what transpired between him and Baba Waziri Abba Kyari, a native of Bama Local Government of Borno State and his relative.
Figures were mentioned and dates were quoted. Mr. Musa relayed how Lawal Daura, the sacked DSS boss arrested and dehumanised Baba Waziri, Abba Kyari’s accuser. I also watched a video of the uncontrollable tears of DSP Tijani Bulama who was investigating Kyari and who was also detained.
Having been accused of turning a blind eye, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) eventually said it was not shying away from investigating Abba Kyari. Just that “a case of this nature deserved some time to handle”. Curiously, on September 9, 2018, the Presidency again, characteristically, rose in defence of Abba Kyari, describing the allegation as false. This I am certain must have foreclosed EFCC’s investigation. Or will Magu override his employers? Not likely. Today, Kyari is still the power-that-be in the Villa, and is revered like an hegemonic demigod.
Ordinary Ahmed Musa has been tossed aside like an Ordinary Rabble Rouser! In his passionate voice for justice for the oppressed, I sensed frustration, anger and a shattered hope for the Nigeria of his dream.
This nation was therefore rudely shocked to observe the speed with which a petition from an NGO, ran by a close associate of President Buhari against the sitting chief justice of Nigeria received speedy attention. This petition of the “CSO” was submitted January 9, the charge sheet was prepared by CCB and filed before CCT January 10, the petition itself was written January 7. When did this government become this expeditious in handling petitions of infractions?
Let us be clear: Justice Onnoghen should face the music if he was found culpable as being such a “forgetful” crook. It is fine by me. But what makes him such a target of a clean-up exercise that Abba Kyari was too saintly to taste?
Why is Onnoghen being hounded in the same country where Minister Kemi Adeosun was indulged, defended and protected until public outcry saw to her exit?
Worthy of note, the president also did not direct her to trial for alleged certificate forgery. He actually “thanked her for her service to the nation” on September 14, 2018.
The nation is still wonderstruck at how this administration handled the Maina saga. No one is even interested again since a government of integrity has no clue what to do.
Since PREMIUM TIMES called out honorable Minister Adebayo Shittu on his NYSC skipping scandal, this administration has pretended not to hear it. On November 9, 2018, the same newspaper also accused the same Shittu of tax default, accusing him of shortchanging the nation; the government has kept sealed lips since then.
The list is endless of Buhari’s untouchables. And now you want to ram down our throats the preachment of transparency and altruism in your attempted coup d’état to upend the Nigerian judiciary? Mr. President, some truth won’t hurt as follows: Apart from your paid agents and bandwagon followers who are victims of Stockholm syndrome, no serious, analytical mind believes you! Close to the election, many Nigerians believe your game plan is to annex the judiciary ahead of the elections, so you can coast home to an uninterrupted victory, even if you’re dragged before the courts over electoral malpractices which you may not expressly endorse but which your entitlement-driven, overzealous aides might not mind to do.
Mr. President, Onnoghen is a Nigerian, just like others you appointed whose acts of malfeasance made us shout our voices hoarse before you grudgingly acted upon their matters.
And for the usual towncriers who will always cry than the bereaved, something is not right when we adopt coloured standards just so we can protect and hail our political idols. President Buhari is a human who can hit a miss and score low on occasional blunders. It is our civic responsibility to love him but to also question him. There is a grave danger however, when you praise everything and anything a leader does like he is infallible – this is how tyrants are made.
How come those of you who “stood by Kemi” then are now calling for Onnoghen’s head. This is double standard at its odoriferous height!
President Buhari, your integrity branding before you came to power has diminished. Time is running out for you to exit your glorious public career in untainted robes. It could be now and it could be in 2023. But the truth is, you’ve seen it all and providence has been kind to you. This seeming embrace of divisive tactics and selective justice may completely darken your history.
It is my fervent hope that these words of Ziad Abdelnour is fully taken in going forward: “Trust is earned, respect is given, and loyalty is demonstrated. Betrayal of any one of those is to lose all three”.
Akin Fadeyi is the convener of the Corruption Not In My Country project.