Saturday, July 20Nigeria's Authoritative Maritime News Magazine

What Buhari must do to help himself

By Dele Sobowale

He, who speaks without modesty, will find it difficult to make his words good.” Confucius, 551-479BC, Chinese philosopher.

…. He also runs the risk of making a mockery of himself.  He was, and self-advertised, as a man who would come into office to fight corruption and deal with anyone found to be corrupt without fear or favour. On that promise, millions of Nigerians campaigned and voted for him. I did in 2011, when Lai Mohammed, his current Minister of Information was still a spokesman for a defunct political party called ACN.

In the months leading to the 2011 elections, Lai was the arrowhead of Buhari’s adversaries who told us that the man was “too old” (among other deficiencies they alleged) to lead Nigerians. Four years after, the same Lai, the spokesman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, had the same Buhari to promote as Presidential candidate. Then, a man four years older was suddenly not too old to rule.

“Liars ought to have good memories.” Algernon Sidney, 1622-1683.

The same Lai Mohammed was loudest in pronouncing to the whole world when Buhari went to London for treatment that the President was “hale and hearty”. Then Buhari returned and proclaimed that “I have never been so sick in my life.” That should tell you who Lai Mohammed is anytime he stands up to speak.

Our readers globally must be reminded of that little bit of information about one of the men around Buhari because the Minister, again, recently when at a forum in late November he criticized the media for mocking President Buhari. He was ably supported on that mission by the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu. Mohammed and Magu (M and M) don’t add up to much as far as I am concerned.

They would ordinarily have been ignored except that they presumed on this occasion to talk down to people morally superior to them and to want to teach the media their jobs. They chose a forum Mohammed controlled. This is a forum I control and from here their boss will receive the rejoinder to what his servants pronounced.

First, let us examine two examples of what M and M considered mockery of Buhari. The first said, “Arewa Youths knock Buhari over failing corruption war” and the second reported that “Buhari’s anti-corruption war is failing”. The two were among reports which Lai called “sheer mockery, not reporting.”

Lai as everybody knows is a lawyer by profession and a propagandist by choice. He is not a journalist, and can never be, so how does he know what qualifies as “reporting”.  He certainly is wet when it comes to lexicography. But, he has a boss to please.  So, he feels everybody should be polishing the apple for the President. He has, perhaps forgotten that Buhari is his boss and our servant.

Buhari begged for our votes making promises which have been largely unfulfilled. He assembled his own servants, Lai among them, who remain in their posts at his pleasure. To please Buhari, most of them would do and say anything. Nigerians and the members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, the free media, are not obligated to dissemble to please Buhari.

We operate within our rights in a democracy to judge him, to praise him, and to mock him – if that is what he deserves. Lai and Magu are in for a shock if they think they will change public and media attitude to their boss by what they said at the forum. No such thing will happen. In a free society, such as we want to create in Nigeria, anyone who deserves to be mocked will be laughed at – whether pauper or President. What M and M should be asking is: “why are people mocking a leader who was overwhelmingly endorsed just two and a half years ago? Why are many people turning their backs on him?”

“A leader is …. Worst when they [the people] despise him” according to Lao-tsy, 6th Century Chinese philosopher.

One of the cardinal reasons why millions of Nigerians who trooped to the polls in 2015 now mutter unprintable expletives is because Buhari has surrounded himself with the worst set of top officials that the nation has seen since 1960. Few people believe the Minister when he speaks and the EFCC Chairman has used the media to engage in publicity.

The damning security report on Magu by the Directorate of State Services, DSS, the failure to engage the Interpol to locate and apprehend Maina and now the possibility that Buhari might have been involved in the contact with the man and his reinstatement and promotion call not only for mockery but disdain.

How can the President be telling us and the world that his administration is fighting corruption when several of his top officials were aware of the man’s location; later planned his clandestine return to Nigeria and even planned his exit again from the country this year?

What can be more hilarious than the fact that, having been “told” about Maina’s presence in office, Buhari did not order his arrest but instructed that he should be sacked – giving the man the chance to make his escape again with the help of the same officials? M and M should read the various reports coming out of the National Assembly on “Mainagate”.

One report is very interesting because it points to the duplicity of the EFCC with regard to the Maina issue. According to the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Mr. Mohammed Babandede, “On September 2, 2013, Maina was prevented from traveling through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, because he was on the wanted list of the EFCC.”

However, the EFCC later wrote the Immigration Service on December 1, 2015 removing his name from the list. So, on the day Maina resumed duty this year, the EFCC had removed Maina’s name from the list. Although Magu denied knowledge of the letter and promised to investigate the matter. We wait.

That was the same Magu, who at Lai Mohammed’s show pronounced that “the media practitioners that are supposed to help fight corruption have unfortunately been sucked into the cesspool of malfeasance.” Magu and Mohammed have either never heard that “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”. They are lobbing pebbles now. Their boss will receive boulders in return.

Buhari, on the other hand, is not helping matters by still keeping in office all the tarnished individuals occupying the highest offices in his government. The Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, disclaims several letters attributed to him; failed to investigate who forged them until now; accuses without proof other top officials of sharing or buying assets recovered and he has no clue how Maina returned to Nigeria after meeting with him in the presence of the current National Security Adviser, NSA. If that is not a mockery of governance, what then is, Alhaji Lai Mohammed? Tell us.

Among the more comical aspects of “Mainagate”, was the “sacking” of the former pension boss when the story broke last month. Buhari directed through one of his spokesmen, a former Editor of a national daily, that Maina should be sacked. A few days after, the spokesman was asked if Buhari had done enough by merely asking for the man’s appointment to be terminated. Our former Editor asked angrily what else the reporter wanted Buhari to do.

On November 30, 2017, House of Representative investigation committee was told by the Minister for Finance that “From our records, Maina received his last salary in February 2013. In March 2013, he was removed from the payroll…. I don’t know from where he received the salary.” Ummh!!! Apparently, Buhari, in a manner reminding one of Don Quixote, the comic figure, fired a guy who was not even his staff!! This is high grade comedy with highly placed Nigerians in Aso Rock all suffering from the Aso Rock disease.

Buhari has two choices. He could improve his performance and stop the mockery; or he can go home and the mockery will also stop.

Read more at: