My article published a fortnight ago titled: ‘Oshiomhole as Buhari’s Enforcer’, provided the background to the current political troubles. In the said article, I had stated inter alia: “The truth well-spoken by him (Oshiomhole) is that ministers, heads of parastatals and security chiefs owe their allegiance to these competing power cells. You see, Buhari runs a centrifugal government with no strong centripetal authority; he hardly knows what is going on in his government but appears to always be content when told certain actions have been taken in furtherance of his ethno-religious and re-election interests.” I must state here that I don’t have clairvoyant powers. All I do is to rely on historical records and behavioural pattern to draw conclusions.
Now to the current crisis. Obviously rattled by the velocity of defections (let me put on record here that I am against defection) from its fold within the last three weeks which had reached a fever pitch, the All Progressives Congress (APC) needed a desperate win to try to cap the bleeding it had suffered. So it was some big relief for President Muhammadu Buhari who having exploited the anti-corruption war to divert attention from his unfitness for the position he clings on to, and after intense horse-trading, subterfuge, blackmail, coercion clawed at halftime to a “one-one goalless draw”, according to Lai Mohammed. The Senate Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio had finally betrayed his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and defected to the APC. But how this amounted to a goalless draw, I don’t know. This much-needed break from the steady stream of bad news was celebrated with fanfare by the APC leadership. I will return to this later.
The security agencies, viz. the Department of State Services (DSS), the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have become willing tools in the hands of desperate politicians clutching at straws to retain power at all cost, totally oblivious of the wider implications of the damage they are doing to the institutions. They have sadly injected themselves into the politics of 2019 and have taken sides with Buhari, the aspirant of the APC. In pursuit of their undisguised goal of having Buhari reelected, we have seen the harassment, intimidation and a ramping up of partisan investigations of the president’s opponents for corrupt practices and other criminal matters. In their desperate desire to achieve that goal, no intrigue or manoeuvre is deemed beyond the pale as long as it achieves the desired effect. The saddest part of it all is that these guys are trying to railroad into office again in 2019 a man with a proven lack of capacity and competence to govern. I cannot help but ask the question, what is wrong with Nigerians? There is no doubt that we are experiencing a dislocation of thought and logical reasoning among many people, both ordinary and mighty of sterling credentials, some of whom we had previously thought were strong enough on principles to withstand or resist the many egregious abuses we are seeing today but have so far unravelled as willing accomplices of this tyrannical misrule. It is a shame that they celebrate this dictator as a “reformed democrat” and a “born-again phenomenon”. It is even a bigger shame that a man who has failed the leadership test on all scores and exhibited the worst form of nepotism and medieval clannishness is being promoted once again for a second term.
At no time in the history of Nigeria’s civilian rule have we witnessed this robust assault on constitutional democracy, the rule of law and due process. As if that weren’t bad enough, these people would rile us with utterly preposterous explanations that defile understanding. Sadly, this is promoted by a party that claimed progressivism and adherence to democratic values as articles of faith. The pretenders to democratic values and those who for so long had condescendingly laid claim to high moral pedestal and presented themselves as custodians of the values of a good society have been exposed by current developments as worse than those they criticised in the past. A certain professor of law who is in the vanguard of Buhari’s sham fight against corruption has ditched all he ever stood for and is exhibiting senility in tub-thumping rhetoric to defend the death of our national values in a most egregious manner. Oh, the man has died in another professor of huge international accomplishment. It’s a known fact that he had harsh criticisms for the previous government. He is not outraged by this government’s stinking impunity. Instead our wordsmith has turned himself into a gossipmonger, and he is trying desperately to deflect attention to a former president’s “sins”. The assault on the National Assembly by the DSS did not outrage him. Instead he was preoccupied with providing dramatic “eyewitness accounts” of an ex-president’s sexual escapades! Well, it’s going to take a lot more to persuade some of us to fall into line concerning his agenda.
Let’s start with the disgraced former director general of the DSS. After a three-year reign, wherein he was a law unto himself, the tenure of the power-drunk former director general of the DSS and a nephew to the president, Mallam Lawal Daura, came to an abrupt and ignominious end last week. Not even himself could have contemplated his fall in such a graceless manner. After all, he had pulled off stunts in the past that outraged the nation but nothing happened to him, not even a reprimand. As a matter of fact, the government defended some of his notoriety (the raid on judges) as evidence of its seriousness in the fight to root out corruption.
So when he, acting in cahoots with some APC chieftains, embarked on the career-ending mission to deploy some hooded DSS operatives to lay siege to the National Assembly on Tuesday to facilitate the removal of the Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy Ike Ekweremadu, to him it was just another chapter in his infamous reign. But he didn’t reckon that he had exhausted his grace and overreached himself. And that a dramatic nay difficult chapter of his life was about to begin. To save democracy, the acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had little choice but to end Daura’s reign of impunity which had been condoled by Buhari and applauded by the rude, power-drunk, lying and undemocratic party called the APC. In just two terse sentences, Lawal Daura crashed from his Olympian height into the abyss. You see, in this whole sordid drama, the APC has not disappointed us by trying to lie its way out of blame when the plan to remove the Senate President blew up in its face. Power, it is said, is transient. I had wondered and agonised for months when the torment from these medieval lords of the manor would end. Painfully, I had resigned myself to wait until Buhari’s handover of power so that we could get rid of these lawless state officials and hold them to account for their many abuses of power. It’s a relief that one is gone. Daura was a government within a government, the head of a powerful group feared for its ruthlessness and reckless disregard for the law and institutions of state. He was the law and above the law. Of course Daura derived its awesome powers from being a blood relation to a weak president who “condoles disrespect for his office”. At a snap of the fingers last week, he lost his power and the fearsomeness he had built around his personage. With his phones seized, he was whisked away and placed under house arrest. He has suddenly realised how powerless he really is. It must be agonising for him as he reflects about his three-year reign particularly the last few days. Fate can play cruel jokes in real time on our lives. Daura must be praying it has been a nightmare he would soon wake up from. But this is no dream o; a new chapter of his life has just begun.
Daura’s fall should be a lesson in power politics to the chairman of the EFCC, and the unofficial publicity secretary of the Buhari reelection campaign (mind you, he now dons a campaign lapel of President Buhari) Ibrahim Magu, who has carried on like there’s no tomorrow. He seems to like the optics he generates in the media more than the substance. His fall will come one day, and we (the media) will be here to report the story. He has executed the brief of his office with unequalled impunity. Magu has shown a clear partisan bias in his investigations and prosecution of crimes, such that he has turned the EFCC into an “APC’s strike force”. It is almost mind-numbing and predictable the way he repeatedly injects the EFCC into the Buhari reelection campaign. His main task, it appears, is to decimate the opposition and clear the path for the ruling party’s success. How can a man who wears Buhari’s reelection lapel be an arbiter of fairness and appropriate conduct with respect to cases that concern the opposition? Of course examples abound of how Magu has overreached himself, motivated in part by political considerations.
Barely two days after Kayode Fayemi of the APC won the Ekiti governorship election, the EFCC in a very partisan tweet, gloated at the defeat of the PDP, saying it was waiting to welcome Ayo Fayose to its office because it was going to reopen his case file very soon. It only took down that tweet following outrage from Nigerians. It is noteworthy that the EFCC’s tweet was more out of its quest to exact vengeance on Fayose than seeking justice because of how he had antagonised Buhari in the last four years.
How does one explain that immediately the Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom defected to the PDP, the National Chairman of the APC Adams Oshiomhole in cahoots with the EFCC launched vicious and vitriolic attacks on the governor? The EFCC, we were told, launched investigations into the governor’s security vote expenses, accusing him of N22 billion fraud and money laundering. The anti-graft agency later went berserk as it tried to outdo the chairman of the APC in their desire to force-feed the public allegations of sleaze against Ortom. In a highly reckless, utterly irresponsible and unconstitutional action, it froze the state’s bank accounts. Who gave Magu such sweeping powers to freeze the accounts and by extension, hindered the ability of a federating unit to function? You see, the EFCC knew about Ortom’s alleged crimes but refused to act because he (Ortom) was still in the APC. But the moment he defected from the party of “saints”, he had to be exposed, and the allegations were made public. Is that how an unbiased crime agency works? That brings me to Godswill Akpabio’s case. Reports had it that he defected to the APC to save his own hide in the face of EFCC’s investigation. The EFCC, it was reported, had written to banks to furnish it with details of Akpabio’s financial transactions and sensing trouble, he caved in. First, he visited Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, then it was Bola Tinubu’s turn and from there, he dashed to London where he was received by “Africa’s anti-corruption czar”, President Buhari. Of course, the president could not claim to have been unaware of Akpabio’s alleged graft. Oh c’mon! Politics supersedes the anti-corruption posture of this government o o. Since then, the EFCC has quietly backed off its investigation of the senator.
Clearly, the investigation was used to coerce him to defect to give the APC some consolation prize from its haemorrhage of defections. Do you still remember Senator Musiliu Obanikoro’s case? There was so much noise about the corruption allegations against him when he was abroad. He returned to the country, reported himself to the EFCC which detained him briefly and was released. Pronto, he joined the APC to hush up the scandal. And that was the end of the matter. Senator Hope Uzodinma was facing allegations of corruption and aiding and abetting smuggling. He defected from the PDP to the APC pronto and nothing has since been heard of the matter. Folks, there are many more instances of Magu’s clear double standard too numerous to recount here.
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