The nation needs to know the whole truth about the Maina affair

If any proof was needed that the fight against corruption by the current administration is no more than a self-deceiving ruse, it is in the desperation to prevent the Senate from investigating the circumstances under which the fugitive former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, was reinstated and promoted in the Federal Civil Service. The Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Mr Abubakar Malami who admitted publicly that he met Maina in Dubai before the controversial decision was taken has lately been hopping from one court to the order, in a bid to stop the Senate investigation.

In expressing surprise that a man who was given ample opportunity by both chambers of the National Assembly to state his case on the Maina issue was now the one going to court to stop a legislative investigation, the Senate last week sent a poser to both Malami and perhaps also the presidency: “We are wondering what the AGF is afraid of. When he appeared before our committee, he was well received and fairly treated. He indeed expressed his happiness with the protection given to him by the committee handling the Maina case. Why then is it very important and urgent for him to stop the investigative hearing? What is the AGF trying to hide?”

This is very important question that needs to be addressed not only by Malami who is at the centre of this never-ending sordid drama but also by the presidency that is looking the other way on a scandal that calls to question the integrity of the Buhari administration. Nigerians have not forgotten that the name of President Muhammadu Buhari had also been dragged into the controversy by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita and there has been no denial about his complicity despite directing the sack of Maina when the whole scandal broke.

In a leaked memo that is yet to be disputed, Oyo-Ita had confirmed what most people suspected: that the president knew about the whole Maina saga. “Mr. President on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 after the FEC meeting where I briefed His Excellency verbally on the wide-ranging implications of the reinstatement of Mr. A. A. Maina, especially the damaging impact on the anti-corruption stance of this administration”, Oyo-Ita reportedly wrote.

However, even before that taint, in all that has transpired on this sordid drama, the president should be held to account for allowing or overlooking Maina’s reinstatement in spite of a contrary counsel from the HOS. The questions we have been asking which remain unanswered are: What did the president know? When did he know it? How long did it take between when the president was alerted and when the reinstatement took place? Why would the case of an assistant director in the civil service attract relentless attention to the extent that the president has to do the dirty job of firing him? Did the president fire him because the deal had gone public or because the administrative machinery of his government has been compromised or has become dysfunctional?

That a government which came to power with the campaign to fight corruption would enthrone this brazen act of misdeed is rather shameful. All the raging issues of deficits of enlightened governance and lack of fidelity to rudimentary public morality that Nigerians witness almost on a daily basis run counter to any avowed commitment to right the wrongs of the past. Mounting instances of tardiness in taking prompt decisions on matters of transparency and accountability have also begun to taint the personal integrity that was the selling point of Buhari before the 2015 presidential election.