It is a pity that two and half years into PMB’s 4-year term we have to bring this phase of PMB’s anti-corruption agenda to an end. This has become very necessary to save PMB and all those who wish Nigeria well from continued embarrassment. With the high drama of Maina’s reinstatement into the civil service, it is reasonable to conclude that we are not making much headway with fighting real corruption in Nigeria.
Maina was accused of embezzling or stealing billions of pension funds which he was called to manage. EFCC investigated him and found that he had a case to answer. The Federal Government that he was working for, after investigating him, dismissed him from the civil service. The National Assembly invited him; he refused to show up. The EFCC invited him; he failed to show up but ran away to a foreign country to evade justice. Thereafter EFFC declared him wanted and he became a fugitive.
Then PMB came to power on the steam of an anticorruption and change agenda. According to Maina’s family, PMB and APC invited Maina to join them to bring change to Nigeria. Then the wanted Maina was escorted back into Nigeria and then given security cover by the DSS according to his family as they revealed in a press conference carried on national television watched by the entire World. Thereafter the AGF steps in and directs the civil service commission and the Ministry of Interior to re-absorb Maina, with a copy to the office of the head of service of the federation. Minister of Interior welcomes Maina and promotes him, backdating his promotion to the date of his dismissal in 2013. What a tale!
Then some people raised their voices and PMB ordered the sack of Maina for the second time and asked for a report to be sent to his office on how the man who was dismissed in 2013, declared wanted in 2015 by the EFCC, came back triumphantly and was re-absorbed and promoted. Shall we know the contents of the report? Perhaps after the contents of earlier investigations on the SGF and NIA DG have been released. Meanwhile, the same Maina who was occupying an office in the Ministry of Interior that houses the department of immigration, vanishes into thin air once again and no one could arrest him, nor know his current whereabouts! Then the EFFC wakes up from sleep and remembers that he had property in Maitama and goes to raid and seize the property, following with declaring him as wanted (a second time!) and requesting the help of Interpol. See how the government and its agencies are insulting the intelligence of Nigerians!
I had previously stated in this column that this current anti-corruption war was not holistic and that it seemed as if we had a limited definition of the concept of corruption. It seems that the current promoters of the campaign see corruption as the stealing or misappropriation of public funds by the officials of the past government or the opposition party. This view has been substantiated over time as the government seems to gloss over the misdeeds of its own officials and party members. In addition, the war seems to ignore the common everyday corruption that goes on in government ministries and agencies. I am completely downcast that after the allegations that the GMD of NNPC did not adopt good corporate governance procedures in his official transactions, the government has said nothing, except prompting the accused to continue to campaign that he did nothing wrong. Whoever admits wrong doing in the Public service? Even the accusations that the NNPC board and management appointments were lopsided and did not reflect federal character has been entirely ignored because it does not relate to corruption? The ongoing accusation of corruption and several unethical misdeeds against the IGP by Senator Misau and others has been allowed to fester in a regime that all thought had come to kill corruption.
This is why I think that we need to bring this misguided notion of an anti-corruption war to an end. Then we must start a new phase that will be comprehensive and holistic. A new war that will fight every corruptive tendency in every strand of our public and private lives. This phase must start with an attempt to define what corruption really means and to identify its ramifications and manifestations. Then we take away politics from this fight. Every act of corruption must be treated with maximum reprehension without regard to political, religious or ethnic affiliations. In this new phase, we must show maximum revulsion against the least act of corruption. Government must never come out to defend its officials. Every indicted official must be suspended and put through investigation and or trial by the appropriate law enforcement agency. Also, government officials should no longer be asked to investigate infringements by fellow officials. Lack of bias cannot be guaranteed in these circumstances. The Police, the EFCC, ICPC and the DSS are the appropriate agencies that should investigate all acts of corruption and public malfeasance.
Let me state that I am making these suggestions in good faith. First, I firmly believe that corruption is Nigeria’s biggest problem, given my broad understanding of what corruption means and the unquantifiable damage it had caused and is still causing in the country. Second, I fully agree with PMB that if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. And thirdly, so much faith has been invested on PMB by Nigerians and even the global community that he has the moral integrity to fight this battle successfully. But thus far, many are beginning to lose hope.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR