Suspension of SGF: Matters Arising

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Mohammed Shehu

Many political pundits believe that the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, followed a concerted and sustained campaign of calumny against him by a section of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and their cohorts.

According to the political observers, Lawal’s detractors, who felt that he had stepped on the wrong toes, have cashed in on the ill conceived report of the Senate Ad hoc Committee to call for his removal from office, even though the matter had been laid to rest following an investigation by the Presidency.

 “The attack was so intense that it appeared as if his removal from office was the only solution for peace to reign in Nigeria. It was evident that mere allegation provided cannon fodder for his detractors to achieve what they had failed to achieve through other means,” said a political pundit close to the ruling party.

Informed sources have recently indicated that the raging battle against the SGF may not be unconnected with the fact that the Office of the SGF supervises the activities of the Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB). Lawal’s apparent posture of non-interference with government structures in the course of their duty has identified him as enemy number one.

Furthermore, the budget-padding episode and the constituency-project impasse have pitched the National Assembly against the Federal Government and those who cannot bend the wheels of progress place the blame on the doorstep of the SGF who they accuse of not playing ball. The task to dethrone the SGF was executed on all fronts.

They thereafter set out to discredit the Buhari administration by underplaying the successful decimation of the Boko Haram insurgency and dusting up outrageous corruption allegation in genuine efforts of resettling the internally displaced persons (IDPs) being championed by the SGF, Babachir Lawal.

It is disturbing that these orchestrated attacks on the SGF are being repackaged on a daily basis with a clear intent to discredit him for no other reason than that he is doing his job.

Following the phantom allegation of impropriety of contract award leveled against the SGF by the Senate, the Presidency directed the chief law officer; the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to investigate the matter and a no-guilty verdict was returned. But these elements, acting the script of their masters, have alleged that there is a cover up by the Presidency and the Attorney General. Indeed no one is immune from attack by these people so long as they see one standing in the way of crucifixion of Lawal.

The slur campaign continued unabated with no effort made to hear SGF’s side of the story. They simply kept on publishing the fabrications and lies that they were being fed by paymasters.  They believe that Nigerians would not know better and would continue to believe their lies because they, Nigerians are so angry.

Those close to the SGF, Lawal believe he has inspired the nation with his fearless disposition and courageous hands-on approach to making the change he so passionately championed. Yes, few public figures have caught the imagination of their people as Babachir Lawal.  His boldness and no-nonsense approach in contending with adversaries has endeared him to the ordinary Nigerians.

An insight into the personality of this distinguished gentleman reveals a man with inner strength of character and an achievement driven persona whose exceptional vision and charisma stand him out.

 “Lawal’s loyalty and commitment to the Buhari administration also annoyed these demagogue politicians.  Unknown to them, Lawal’s passionate desire to change his society, attracted him to active politics in 2002 with the sole objective of working towards the emergence of the then General Muhammadu Buhari as the President of Nigeria. This was informed by his knowledge and understanding that President Buhari is patriotic, incorruptible and disciplined with passion for the unity of Nigeria and justice for all. He joined the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and played key roles in the Buhari Campaign Organisation and later followed his beloved Buhari to Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and eventually, the All Progressives Change (APC) where he played key roles,” one of Lawal’s aids correctly disclosed.

To most discerning Nigerians, the corruption allegation is a cocktail of misinformation, mischief and outright falsehood meant to cast aspersions on the reputation of the SGF and boot him out.

To start with, it is important to situate the genesis of the whole saga in its proper context. The SGF chairs the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) with the responsibility of rehabilitation and resettlement of IDPs. In the course of its duties, more than 20 contracts were awarded.

The Senate set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate alleged fraud in the contract-award process, following a petition it received.

The sensationalised N250 million for ‘grass cutting” was simply coined to attract the fury of the general public.

The contractor, Josmon Technologies Limited, was engaged to construct boreholes and procure irrigation pumps, fishing canoes, Toyota Hilux Van, and reclamation of hectares of land amongst others. Contrary to the report, valid documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) show that the SGF resigned as director of Rolavision Engineering Ltd following his appointment.

With his appointment this well-known disciplinarian and fiery loyalist applied himself totally to the actualisation of their manifesto to the delight of everyone. It was the kind of personal commitment and undying loyalty that the office had not seen in a long time. Ironically, these sterling attributes that created an iron cast loyalty around the Buhari presidency also ensnared him to enemies of change who will stop at nothing to bring him down, along with the grassroots government of Muhammadu Buhari.

.Shehu is a social commentator and can be reached on Moha_shehu@yahoo.co.uk