For what it’s worth, Mr President, it is very likely that you were really not aware of the reinstatement of Maina.
2017 has not exactly been your best year of health. You have needed to leave the country twice for treatments and spent over 150 days in total. In your absence, we know that certain persons have run the affairs of state, carrying out their own agenda not necessarily at your prompting nor at the direction of then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo. As much as some claim to protect you while others appear to worship, every single one of them are really only after their personal pockets, using your leadership as the covering for achieving their aims.
It should have been confirmed to us that something was deeply wrong in the Presidency when we were told that an infestation of rats was the reason you could not resume in your office after the return from London. We thought we could not go lower than that in terms of a national embarrassment. But we thought it was not too trivial a matter to huff and puff over, so we moved on after a few laughs. From the revelations from the Maina affair and the ludicrous responses being offered by your spokespersons, particularly Mallam Garba Shehu, there is absolutely no doubt that the Villa is being run like a rat house.
The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should not live in a rat house. He should be the Lion King in whose presence the jackals and hyenas must tremble. Sadly, Mr President, ain’t nobody scared of you the way things seem to be playing out. Again, we should have known this when your suspended Secretary to the Federal Government, Babachir Lawal, asked in the most off-handed manner “Who is the Presidency?” The man continues to walk freely wherever he is, more than 20 weeks after a three-week report was prepared by the Vice President’s panel in May. That report has been on your desk for more than a month now but you have yet to act in that regard; perhaps you have led the way in this lackadaisical attitude towards tackling subjects suspected of corruption yourself?
But this Maina one is different. It is a particular stink because the processes leading up to his return to the Ministry of Interior, promotion and payment of N22 million in arrears have been going on for the best part of 6 months. In the past six months, you have been hounding Senate President Bukola Saraki for corruption and your Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami and the DSS, headed by Lawal Daura, have increased their antagonism towards the EFCC Chairman, all in the name of anti-corruption. But, going by newspaper reports, these two characters have provided “legal advice” and “security” for the return of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina into the country and his reintegration into the civil service. Head of Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita says she did not personally approve of Maina’s return meaning someone must have muscled her into approval, yes?
Mr President, your administration was supposed to be different, and not an extended safe space for the operations of neo-cabals. Attributing the resurrection of Maina to the remaining pieces of the Jonathan architecture is an indictment on your leadership, consciousness and capacity to govern the Nigerian state. Repeatedly saying you are not aware of these happenings – of Kachikwu vs Baru, and others – means Nigeria is on auto-pilot. It is absolutely your duty to know and to be in control.
Mr President, the Nigerian people deserve to have the confidence that they are not at the mercy of the whims of a group of men. As the democratically elected president, it is your duty, sir, to communicate this confidence to Nigerians and to the world. Since this news broke, you have gone to Niamey for the conference on a common currency you don’t believe in and will dine with the National Assembly; what do you have to say directly to the Nigerian people on this most embarrassing matter of Mr Maina?
Firing him and having a report submitted to your Chief of Staff has done nothing. If anything, he, Mr Maina, is the one person involved in this charade that you cannot fire. The two Ministers and head of the DSS who appear knee-deep in this as collaborators should not continue to be associated with your Government if your banner still says anything about fighting corruption without respect of persons. It no longer matters how important these men may have been to your historic election; the Nigerian state is bigger than any one individual and its interests should come before all else.
Mr President, the buck stops with you and, to re-echo Dr Ezekwesili, it is time for you to “own these scandals and act”. Something has gone terribly wrong, in addition to the pile of misdemeanors that have been going on this year. This time, someone must take the blame and fall for it. Be ruthless, be decisive; let there be consequences, let some people go.
By Alexander O. Onukwue