Allegations against Aisha Alhassan are a distraction

by J.B Nwachukwu

September 27, 2017 | 12:35 am
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Ever since Aisha Alhassan (Mama Taraba), the Minister for Women Affairs, declared her support for Atiku’s 2019 presidential bid, a bit of hell was unleashed on her. Some have accused her of being disloyal. Several have called for her sack or for her resignation. Others have annoyingly said that her behaviour exemplifies why women shouldn’t be involved in politics (I wonder if they can say this in front of their mothers).

Even more irritating is the report from the Auditor-General’s office that Mama Taraba and officials from her ministry pocketed 11,700,000, part of which was spent on the same day she was sworn in as a Minister. The monies were made available to enable her and her team, embark on “familiarization visits” to unnamed skill acquisition centres in 2015. According to the report, an “audit investigation established that the purported appraisal visits were never undertaken”

If this accusation is true, obviously she would have to face the law. But not before the relevant officers in the Auditor-General’s Office charged with the task of auditing the accounts of the ministries have been investigated and possibly disciplined for negligence.

The corruption accusation raises several questions:

•How often are the accounts of the Ministries audited? In the alternative, are the accounts ever audited?

•What actions are taken as regards the different findings and conclusions gotten from each audit?

•Why is the alleged misappropriation of Aisha Alhassan just coming to light almost two years after?

•Why should we not believe that this accusation is tied to her recent support for Atiku’s 2019 Presidential bid? In other words, had Mama Taraba not supported Atiku, accusations over missing millions of naira won’t have been made.

•Are there other Ministers with similar cases but are not being investigated because they haven’t publicly denounced their support for the President?

•Lastly, how independent is the office of the Auditor-General?

It’s clear the accusation was meant to smear and discredit the image and person of Aisha Alhassan. Unfortunately, it has been a colossal failure.

Rather the report indicts the President and the Auditor-General. It further proves that the anti-corruption war is primarily against the president’s opponents. It has also proven that the saints it took the president six months to appoint are not who he portrays them to be. If a minister is alleged to have started looting from day of her inauguration then clearly the anti-corruption “odour” doesn’t ooze from the president at all.

I do not think Aisha Alhassan can be accused of disloyalty merely because she said she would support and vote for Atiku in 2019. Instead, she has portrayed herself as a loyal and sincere politician, unlike other two-faced politicians. If we are uncomfortable with the attempt of Aisha Alhassan to say things that she believes then we are not encouraging our leaders to have a unity of life. Because other ministers and political appointees of Buhari have not publicly endorsed anyone for 2019 does not make them loyal. They must just be sycophants.  Buhari needs more persons like her. Those with a contrary view may be guilty of not appreciating what the word “loyalty” means. Loyalty doesn’t mean everyone that works for me must share my views, and neither does it demand a blind and timid followership devoid of intelligence and initiative. The likes of Aisha Alhassan can be loyal to President Buhari and at the same time, have different opinions or views on issues.

It must be recognized that her decision wasn’t made arbitrarily, according to her; it was predicated on the decision of Buhari in 2015 to only occupy the office for one tenure (a statement which till date hasn’t been contradicted by Buhari). As such she has a right to support anyone in 2019.

More importantly, all those campaigning for her resignation or sack have not established how her support for Atiku in 2019 affects her duties as a minister of the Buhari administration. Since President Buhari would not be contesting in 2019, clearly there will be no conflict, more so Atiku and Buhari are even in the same party. Our political milieu has to leave the shallow terrains of sentimentality and irrationality and rise to the heights of intellectualism and objectivism for our Nation to develop.

This report from the Auditor-General’s office is most likely a politically motivated one. Such reports aren’t new in Nigeria; they are intended to gag objective criticism and to distract people from the issues. Some weeks ago, we had a similar experience, after Senator Isah Misau accused the Inspector General of Police and the Police force of corruption, rather than investigate the issue; the Police accused him of forgery and of being a deserter. Rather than discuss whether the allegations of corruption were true we have been fixated, like viewers of a never-ending Nollywood TV series, with whether Senator Misau is a deserter or not.

For our democracy to grow, we have to rise above politically motivated reports which greatly undermine not only the independence and strength of the public institutions but also their efficiency.

J.B Nwachukwu

by J.B Nwachukwu

September 27, 2017 | 12:35 am
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