In a statement released by the presidential media team Monday afternoon, the presidency announced that it had terminated the appointment of the erstwhile suspended Secretary General to the Federation, Babachir Lawal. He is to be replaced by Mr. Boss Mustapha, former Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority. The presidency also confirmed that it had terminated the appointment of the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke. However a replacement is yet to be announced.
The statement read, “…the President accepted the recommendation of the panel to terminate the appointment of Mr Lawal, and has appointed Mr Boss Mustapha as the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation. The appointment takes immediate effect.” President Buhari set up a three man panel to investigate the corruption case against Babachir Lawal in a ‘grass-cutting’ scandal involving displaced people in the North-east Nigeria.
This decision is a step in the right direction, and is one many Nigerians have been expecting since vice-president Osinbajo led the investigation into the corruption case and subsequently submitted the report to the president. The only problem is, however, that many doubt the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision will be given enough leeway to charge Babachir Lawal to court, let alone see the inside of a courthouse to answer for these corruption charges. It is not the first time it has happened; Nigeria’s huff and puff against corruption only survives long enough for the suspected persons to walk away freely.
However, greater than this decision is the fallout from it. For the past few weeks, the major headlines in Nigerian media has been of the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform, Abdullahi Maina who allegedly committed a fraud involving the pensions of Nigerians worth over 100 billion naira in 2013 while in office. Maina, who was hitherto on the run from the EFCC, was appointed as a Director at the Ministry of Interior in Abuja this month, in a move resembling an Italian Job executed right under the watch of Nigeria’s security operatives-the ‘Cabal’, as they have been called by many people in government. The ‘Cabal’ is seemingly a group of people close to the president who all have similar interests, but dissimilar to those of the president.
Four years after his disappearance as a suspected criminal, Maina re-emerges as the head of a government agency, aided, according to many news outlets, by some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointed delegates. These appointments; Mr. Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Gen. Abdurrahman Dambazau, the Minister of Interior, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, the Head of Service and perhaps DSS boss, Lawal Musa Daura all seem to implicate one man-the president.
As Abdullahi Maina’s re-instatement made the headlines, president Buhari ordered for his dismissal, claiming he had no idea Maina had been recalled into the federal government. The president through his spokesman also ordered for a report into Maina’s recall into civil service. There have been important questions, but those that need to be answered right away are, who are the people in this ‘Cabal’, are they strong enough to challenge the presidency, and will they get the same treatment as Babachir Lawal, all complete with court judgements? Answering these questions will determine if Buhari will be canonized for his fight against corruption or damned to hell, figuratively.