Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina
By Vincent Obia
In the past one week, the public has been treated to a media feast that clearly demonstrates how cheap corruption has become in Nigeria. The chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, was summoned by the senate in connection with the alleged misappropriation of pension funds amounting N195 billion. Maina maintained a snobbish disposition to the senate summons, which prompted the upper chamber to direct the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar to arrest him. The senate also directed the anticorruption agencies to immediately commence a probe and prosecution of Maina. But he remained out of reach amid accusation that the senate committee investigating him for pension fraud was demanding N3 billion from him.
Sensing that the executive might be engaged in a covert effort to shield Maina, who is widely believed to be close to President Goodluck Jonathan, the senate took the battle to the executive, asking it to choose between Maina and the senate. The president’s special adviser on media and publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, responded in a statement where he denied that Jonathan was backing Maina, insinuating that the president was handicapped in the circumstance, and insisting that only the Head of Service could act against the pension taskforce head.
But barely 24 hours later, the president moved against Maina and directed the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to commence disciplinary action against him for absconding from duty. This seems like an afterthought by a reluctant anticorruption campaigner. It certainly does not portray Nigeria as a country seriously concerned about fighting one of the most virulent causes of its underdevelopment.
This back-and-forth coincides with the assertion by Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Ekpo Nta, that the country has enough laws but lacks the will to fight corruption. “We have more than enough laws that will stamp corruption out of our system but the problem is implementation. Implementing our laws is the problem,” Nta said on Tuesday in a lecture he delivered at a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan. This should be food for thought for the government – if the fight against corruption ranks highly on its preferences.