The hashtags, #Dasukigate and #Buharigate are currently hot topics in Nigeria, on and off social media platforms. Colonel Sambo Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, has been in the spotlight for over a month for his involvement in a $2.2 billion arms deal fraud, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating.
As events unraveled, Dasuki gave names of alleged acomplices in the arms deal controversy including Raymond Dokpesi, owner of DAAR Communications, Attahiru Bafarawa, former governor of Sokoto state, Shuaibu Salisu, former Director of Finance in the Office of the National Security Adviser and most recently, President Muhammad Buhari has been implicated in the scam, too, for accepting a gift of two Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) from former President Jonathan. This revelation birthed the hashtag – #Buharigate.
But where does the suffix ‘gate’ come from and why is it associated with every major political scandal?
Before 1972, the word “Watergate” was known as a luxurious apartment complex in Washington, D.C. but, in the summer of that year, it became associated with one of the greatest political scandals in history.
In the wee hours of the morning on June 17, 1972, five burglars dressed in business suits and latex gloves, were arrested inside the office of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), located in the Watergate complex. According to some witnesses, the men had been wiretapping phones and stealing important documents. It was later discovered that the burglars were connected to President Richard Nixon, who was the president of the United States at the time.
While it is not clear whether or not President Nixon was aware of the espionage operation before it occurred, his reaction was implausible. He took definitive steps to cover up the operation afterwards, as was revealed in a recorded conversation, which later became known as the smoking gun, paid the burglars to keep quiet and tried to stop the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from investigating the crime. He also destroyed evidence and fired uncooperative members of staff.
However, after about two years worth of growing evidence against President Nixon, a series of court battles along with several testimonies of his former staff, his complicity in the “Watergate” crime was undeniable. Though the former president never admitted to any wrongdoing and even famously said, “I am not a crook” at some point, the Supreme Court ordered him to turn over tapes of secretly recorded conversations.
With Nixon’s previously strongest supporters in Congress against him and possible impeachment from the Senate for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution, he resigned on the 8th of August 1974 in a nationally televised address. Giving his address, he said, “By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.”
The Watergate scandal greatly affected American politics and left a huge impression on the global scene creating the politically infamous ‘gate- suffix. Other examples? Contragate/Iran-gate, Monicagate, Diezanigate, Oduahgate, Whitewatergate, and now, Dasukigate and Buharigate.