– The Sun News
GATES

The many ‘gates’ of Buhari government (I)

Mike Ozekhome

It is no longer news that the PMB government is incurably afflicted by many “gates” – the “Maingate”, “Babachirgate”, “NNPCgate”, “IDPgate”, “Dapchigate”, “Adeosungate”, “Oilsubsidygate”, “Nairagate”, “Corruptiongate”, “Bokoharamgate”, “Herdsmengate”, “failedpromisesgate”, “etc gate”.

Let’s attempt a short discourse on some of them. The “MAINGATE”.

Abdilrashid Maina, was Head of presidential Taskforce on Pension Reform under president Jonathan. His disappearance from and appearance in Nigeria, caused a major uproar and hoopla last year and effectively dealt a fatal blow on the feigned anti-corruption war of the PMB government (an euphemism for onslaught against opposition and critics of government). Don’t forget that once a politician decamps from another party to the then APC (now APC and r-APC), he automatically dorns the toga of a saint. Like Naaman the Leper (Syrian-Army Commander), who was dipped into River Jordan seven times (on prophet Elisha’s command), and became clean, with a flesh as that of a child, having been cleansed of his leprosy, anyone who manages to cross the hurdle from one party to the then APC is anti-corruption, uncorrupted and incorruptible. Such is the hypocrisy and humbug of the anticorruption sloganeering.

Maina had fled the country some years earlier over N2 billion pension fund scam under GEJ. Like in a movie however, lased with Professor Peller’s abracadabra magic, Maina not only cruised into Nigeria from self-exile like a celebrity, he actually returned to the Ministry of Interior. As icing on the cake, he got double promotion. Popular public uproar forced the government to sack him. Maina vanished as he had come, with the EFCC looking the other way. The family cried blue murder. It told a bemused country and the world that Maina was in fact invited and given full security protection by the present government, operating through a very powerful cabal (a term popularized by late Prof. Dora Akunyili to describe those unseen hands that were Propping up an obviously ill President Yar’Adua, making the world to believe he was as fit as a fiddle). Like in all cases involving corruption within government circles, the Mainagate brouhaha was carefully swept off into the vehicle of historical oblivion with the APC broom.

The NNPC gate

The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, had pointedly, in an 18 page letter which leaked to the press, accused his successor as GMD, NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, of awarding about $24 billion major contracts without due process, and also engaging in acts of insubordination. For the records, PMB was then consigned to a London hospital bed. His Vice; Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, who was acting President, was not apprised of this national scandal. On PMB’s order to reply immediately, Baru countered that the law and the rules did not require any review or discussion with the Minister of State, or the NNPC Board. “What is required is the processing and approval of contracts by NNPC Tenders Board; The President in his executive capacity, or as Minister of Petroleum, or the Federal Executive Council (FEC), as the case may be”, Baru countered. But the catch here is that PMB was not in the country then. He was sick on hospital bed, in faraway London. He had actually transferred power to his vice, Osibanjo, under Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution. So, who approved

the humongous contracts, since Osibanjo said he did not? The APC broom swept this serious act of corruption under its thick mart of “protecting corruption within government circles with perfume, while fighting corruption against opposition with insecticides” (apologies Senator Shehu Sani). Don’t forget that the much trumpeted “Dasukigate” which the PMB government has anchored its entire anti-corruption war is $2.1b, less than 10% of the $23b involved in the “NNPC GATE”.

Babachir gate

Babachir Lawal (former SGF), was involved in a contract scandal, which later became “Babachirgate”. The Senate Ad-hoc Committee on monitoring humanitarian Crises in the Boko Haram ravaged North East, had in a 45 page report headed by Shehu Sani and signed by seven out of nine members, indicted Lawal, for being the alter ago of Rholavision Engineering Ltd which won a contract with over N500M paid into the company’s account. Rather than send the EFCC to pick up Lawal as the President would have done if Lawal were in the opposition, the presidency defended his integrity. Even with public outcry, the President gave Lawal a special treatment by setting up a three-man Presidential Panel headed by a whole Vice President, Osibanjo. Even when he was indicted, Lawal was ensconced in government warmth, until another round of public outcry before the President fired him. Yet, EFCC remained silent. Once more, the public rose up in righteous indication over this overt perversion of justice through selective war on corruption and elevation of some people above the law. It took many more months before the EFCC invited him. It was alleged he was “detained” in a well-furnished guest house. Till date, he has never been prosecuted or arraigned in any court of law. As usual, the APC –r-APC broom has swept the scandal under the mat.

Oil Subsidygate

In January, 2012, Nigerians were heavily mobilised by the opposition and civil society, spearheaded by “Occupy Nigeria” group, against GEJ’s decision to remove some fuel subsidy and increase the pump price of fuel. They all argued there was no subsidy and that it was a scam to satiate the heavy financial throats of our oil cabal buccaneers. GEJ government caved into mass revolt and announced partial subsidy removal, bringing up the Petrol price from N65 to N97, instead of the N141 it was originally.

PMB, Bola Tinubu, Ezekwesili, El Rufai, Osinbajo, Bakare, Tolu Ogunlesi, Femi Falana, etc, had maintained that fuel subsidy did not exist. They all later summersaulted. Tinubu, in May, 2016, suddenly discovered that it was a “necessary pain” Nigerians have to endure. Ezekwesili said it was all about “trust” (meaning Buhari and not GEJ, could be trusted with fuel subsidy removal). El Rufai, who, in 2012, said it was about “trust, not economics”, changed, and admonished Nigerians to stay calm and orderly”. Indeed, after the victory in 2015, PMB had said he did know what subsidy meant.

It was to a shocked Nation that the Presidency declared it spends N24b monthly (N774 Million per day), to subsidise fuel in the country even when it was given for as high as N250-N300 per litre in some parts of Nigeria. Over 2 trillion naira has been spent on the so called non-existent subsidy, much higher than the GEJ period. The era of inconsistencies, summersaults, hypocrisy, propaganda and opaqueness in governance is here with us. Where is the subsidy money coming from when the NASS has not appropriated any funds for it under Sections 80-85 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution?

The Adeosungate

The most recent of the scandalous gates (and it is still brewing), is the “Adeosungate”. The facts are rather straightforward. Premium Times, an investigative online newspaper had published a story, questioning the NYSC exemption certificate allegedly awarded to Kemi Adeosun, PMB’s Minister of Finance. She completed her first polytechnic degree at age 22. Under the NYSC, she was not entitled to exemption, having not attained the exemption age of 30. Under section 2 of the NYSC Act, a person shall be exempted from service “if at the date of graduation or obtaining his diploma or other professional qualification – he is over 30 years”. Others who are equally exempted are members of the Armed Forces, Police, DSS, NIA, DIA, or Conferees of national honours.

Adeosun had graduated from the Polytechnic of East London (not University of East London as some of her papers are said to bear, having graduated before the change of name from Polytechnic to University) at 22 in 1989, but returned to Nigeria, after she had clocked 30. She also served as Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State.

NYSC has confirmed she did apply for exemption, but failed to tell a cynical country too used to this government’s shenanigans, if it granted it. Because the NYSC Act emphasized “the date of his graduation” as the appropriate date, Kemi, at 22, did not meet this qualifying age, having graduated at 22 (no doubt, a brilliant student).

So, she was not qualified for any exemption. But, she tendered an exemption certificate for ministerial screening. The second curious issue is that the then NYSC DG, Yusuf Bomoi, a retired Brigadier-General, who died on September 18, 2017, had retired officially from the NYSC on February 13, 2009. He was replaced by Brig-Gen Maharazu Tsiga. The trouble is that Kemi Adeosun’s “exemption certificate” is dated September 9, 2009, over seven months after the purported issuer and signatory, Bomoi, had left NYSC.

Did Bomoi come back from retirement to sign certificate? In decent democracies like the UK, where Kemi was born, raised and schooled, she would have resigned immediately in honour, and she will be applauded as charting a new paradign shift and narrative from the known “sit tightism” of Africans. The following, amongst others, had resigned, for one scandal or reason, or the other. Michael Flynn, resigned as Advisor, NSA; Robert Bentley, as Governor of Alabama, Reince Priebus resigned as President Trump’s White House Chief; Jacob Zuma resigned as President of South Africa on February 4; Miro Cerar, as President of Slovenia. Others are Robert Fico who resigned as Prime Minister of Slovakia; Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, as President of Peru; Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, as President of Mauritius, Oliver Solonandrasana, as prime minister of Madagascar. Only on June 9, David Davis resigned as secretary of state, for exiting the European Union, following differences with Theresa May.

In 2016, Cameron had resigned as Prime Minister of UK and leader of the Conservative Party after majority voters of UK had voted to leave the EU (July; 13); John Key, prime Minister of New Zealand; Matteo Renzi, , Italian Prime Minister; Otto Perez Molina, President of Guate Mala (September 3, 2015); Erico Letta, as Prime Minister of Italy (February 22, 2014); Uhuru Kenyatta, as Kenya Finance Minister, after being indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity (January 26, 2012). Even Kevin Rudd resigned as Prime Minister of Australia on June 24, 2010; while Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister of Japan, resigned on June 8, 2010, for merely breaking a campaign promise to close an American Military base on the Island of Okinawa. For merely losing the general election, Gordon Brown on May 11, 2010, resigned as Prime Minister of the UK and leader of the Labour Party. In South Africa, Thabo Mbeki had resigned as president for illegally interfering in the National Prosecuting Authority. This was on September 20, 2008.

So, what is wrong with us Nigerians? Why can’t we throw in the towel when events point to that? Why must we hold on to power anyway, when power is transient and ephemeral? Why are all top players in the present government who have been serially accused of one offence or the other using their official positions and connections to stay put in power?

To be concluded next week.

 

Thought for the week

“A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.” (Baltasar Gracian).

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Tokunbo David
Tokunbo David

Writer and editor.

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