– The Sun News

Issues in the Maina mess

When the reinstatement saga of erstwhile Assistant Director in the Ministry of Interior, Abdulrasheed Maina, broke, I told myself that the President Muhammadu Buhari government had become a case of “echi anu ozo” (tomorrow, we hear another thing). It came a few weeks after the petition by Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to the president accusing the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, of insubordination and sidetracking the NNPC board, became public knowledge. At present, the brouhaha generated by Kachikwu’s letter has not gone away. The matter has not also been resolved. Nigerians are waiting for the final word or action of President Buhari.

Indeed, before the Kachikwu/Baru controversy surfaced, the nation was agog with talks about the report of the presidential investigative panel on allegations leveled against former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, over contracts relating to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and ex-Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke, over the recovered money in an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos. President Buhari, eventually, acted on the report, relieving Lawal and Oke of their positions this week.

There are many other controversies revolving round the Buhari government. They signpost a government whose actions and inactions have left many not only bewildered but also wondering why Nigerians fell for the lie that the President Buhari would bring about a positive change. Indeed, things happening in the Buhari government are as confounding as they are shocking. To say the least, many Nigerians would not believe that some of  the things seen or experienced today would ever manifest under President Buhari.

Take Maina’s case, for instance, and you would be sure that the Buhari government has crashed from the Olympian heights to ground zero. I have followed the arguments over the Maina mess and I can’t help asking why people in the current Federal Government would not accept responsibility for failure. Maina was appointed by the President Goodluck Jonathan government to head a panel on pension reforms in 2010. He worked for three years, till 2013. He was accused of corruption and became a subject of probe by the Senate. In 2013, the EFCC declared him wanted for alleged fraud. He fled to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), leading to his dismissal from the civil service, for abandoning his job.

Naturally, a serious government, and one fighting corruption, like the Buhari government, is expected to be wary of a man with such unenviable credentials, as Maina. But alas, the government embraced him. Maina returned to the country a few weeks ago, more or less like hero, got not only reinstated in the civil service but also earned a promotion. This, to say the least, is a celebration of impunity. That it is happening in a government made up of officials who want the world to believe they are puritans is a catastrophe. What are those who brought Maina back thinking? Is it that their misdeed would not be discovered or that they could push it down the throats of Nigerians?

Interestingly, members of Maina’s family have told the world that their son was invited back to the country by the Buhari government. They revealed that, on his return, he was given adequate security. They stated that he worked at the Department of State Service (DSS) before being, finally, posted back to the Ministry of Interior. These are weighty allegations, which need answers and explanations. Instead of answers, what Nigerians have heard are blames and buck-passing. But no matter what they say or do, the fact is that those at the top of the Buhari government plotted and executed Maina’s return. Maina was cleared by the Attorney-General of the Federation’s office, worked briefly at the DSS and then got posted to the Ministry of Interior. This simply showed that Mallam Abubakar Malami (AGF), director general of the DSS, Lawal Daura, and General Abdulrahman Dambazzau, Minister of Interior, have a case to answer. 

Good a thing, President Buhari has received the report by the Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita. The onus is on him to act on it. The least Nigerians expect from government is punishment for those who are involved in the Maina mess. If AGF Malani, for instance, deliberately twisted a court judgment in order to give Maina a clean bill of health, to facilitate his reinstatement, he has no moral right to continue to hold the office.  If the DSS and the Ministry of Interior conspired with others to bring Maina back, their leaders should be made to face the music for betraying the country.

The Maina saga has demystified the Buhari government. It has shown the true nature of those in the government and, indeed, raises a credibility question on the government and President Buhari. How the president resolves this will determine how discerning Nigerian will take him and his government henceforth.


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