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Christmas discounts amidst Onanuga’s firing squad call

The Christmas period often embodies themes of unity, empathy, and government benevolence, reflecting the spirit of togetherness and goodwill. This time is typically seen as…

The Christmas period often embodies themes of unity, empathy, and government benevolence, reflecting the spirit of togetherness and goodwill. This time is typically seen as an opportunity for governments to demonstrate compassion and support for their citizens, reinforcing social bonds and national unity.

Indeed, Tinubu’s announcement of a 50 per cent transportation discount reflects a benevolent intent, aiming to alleviate financial burdens on Nigerians. Despite the mixed reactions that only a total of 128 North-bound travellers have benefitted from the discount, such measures are efforts that support economic well-being and public welfare, especially during the holiday season when people are facing a cost-of-living crisis.  

The gesture is good from the government, but it will be good to know the source of these funds and how they were appropriated. The government is yet to disclose how they spent the appropriated N500 billion that was meant for 12 million poor households and the conditional cash transfer programmes to an additional 15 million vulnerable households that will amount to N1.25 trillion. It is imperative that the government provides clear and detailed disclosures on the sources and utilisation of these funds. This should have been the good news during the festive period leading to 2024.  

However, in the countdown to Christmas, the government and their spokespeople, led by Bayo Onanuga, spent the weekend reporting a series of allegations about the embezzlement under the previous regime. The allegations came on the back of Hadi Sirika’s fresh probe of Nigeria Air during the week as Festus Keyamo condemned the process of the establishment of the airline. 

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On Friday, the news about the allegations made by the CBN special investigator, Jim Obazee, on the legality of the Naira redesign. He alleged that it was Buhari’s nephew, Tunde Sabiu, who approved the redesign, not the former president. An issue with a significant monetary policy consequence. The investigator also added that Emefiele reportedly deposited billions in foreign currencies across 593 accounts in the US, UK, and China, bypassing approval from the CBN’s board and investment committee. Additionally, he allegedly facilitated the acquisition of Union Bank of Nigeria for Titan Trust Bank Limited and Keystone Bank, with no payment evidence. 

On Saturday, a new revelation was made from the CBN special investigator’s report that they have a CCTV showing Boss Mustapha, the former SGF and Emefiele dragging $6.2 million cash from the CBN vault two weeks to the 2023 election. The report came after an allegation was made about the former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, admitting to embezzling Nigeria’s funds and disclosing that she gave the Zamfara State governor $9 billion.  

Sunday, Christmas Eve, the same investigator went on to indict Ibrahim Gambari, Buhari’s chief of staff, and the former Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed, currently a World Bank Director, for looting N17.3 trillion with Emefiele. Similarly, the EFCC reported that they had uncovered an alleged N37bn fraud in the humanitarian ministry under Sadiya Umar-Farouk. They have since arrested a contractor named James Okwete in connection with the probe and have declared that they are investigating three other former ministers, allegedly involved in graft to the tune of N150 billion. 

On the contrary, Obazee’s report is doubtful if we put on our thinking hats and drop the emotional ones. Evidence shows Buhari made a national broadcast to announce his approval of the Naira redesign. Emefiele, Umar-Farouk and Mustafa went on to declare Obazee’s investigation as baseless, without evidence, and even announced legal action to refute the report.

The majority owner of Titan Trust Bank, TGI Group, has denied any wrongdoing in the acquisition of Union Bank. Likewise, the story of Diezani owning $9 billion is merely fictitious, as the EFCC has since deleted the allegations it made. Don’t get me wrong, I suspect a large-scale corruption scandal happened in the last administration, but we need to avoid sensational headlines that will yield no results.  

If the allegations were accurate, which they are not, they would have merit in the lead-up to Christmas. But instead of building credibility for these flawed sources, we have a person who speaks on behalf of Tinubu, Bayo Onanuga, suggesting that Godwin Emefiele and those accused of embezzlement would have been shot to death at the firing squad for high treason under Chinese law.  

Surely, Onanuga is suggesting the following to be killed: Buhari, Emefiele, Tunde Sabiu, Gambari, Sirika, Zainab Ahmed, Sadiya Umar-Farouk, Diezani, Dauda Lawal, Boss Mustafa, and other ministers under probe. The response has since escalated, with Bafarawa, the ex-governor of Sokoto State, saying it would be disastrous if Tinubu did not investigate Buhari. 

But as we know, Bayo Onanuga speaks for Tinubu; the suggestion that Emefiele and others should face the firing squad for high treason may sound radical, but this approach could potentially lead to extrajudicial killings in a volatile country like Nigeria. One wonders what their intentions are. If our laws are sub-optimal, they should start discussing how to strengthen them instead of rallying for mob action. Besides, they are the ones in power, and they need to stop acting like an opposition party. From deduction, these reports are only released as a form of conditioning for the public, shaping expectations of future governance practices—governance without accountability. 

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