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Civil Wars

The way the results of the 2019 general elections played out, you should expect the country to be moving with such speed and determination to…

The way the results of the 2019 general elections played out, you should expect the country to be moving with such speed and determination to be making up for lost time and opportunities in Buhari administration’s first term, and breaking new grounds at this stage.

Look, the APC and President Buhari got another shot even after a lackluster performance it blamed on a past that had been more damaged than it thought, and leakages in  what should have been its assets in the legislature.

Nigerians could have said, ‘sorry Baba, you had your chance and bungled it’. Boko Haram is still there.

Inflation and unemployment are creating serious issues of concern.

Corruption involving billions are being rumoured everywhere, reminding people of the bad old days of PDP.

Small people’s corruption did not even know there was a fight against it. Majority of  the voters thought it was better to go with one leg rather than crawl.

They were wrong.

Things just got worse.

The president had a pliant(some wicked people called it poodle)  legislature, the type he could have used to convince a skeptical nation that Saraki and Dogara, his fellows in  APC, were his principal reasons for underperforming.

There were  lots  of smiles on all sides and emphatic statements that if the president asked for the moon, the National Assembly would deliver it to him wrapped in a few stars.

But there were no earth-shaking legislations to signal a new era.

Key legislations that had been taken prisoners of the war with the 8th NASS such as the Electoral Act and constitutional amendments remained as they were.

The new found love did not change beds. The budget showed no evidence of the president having his way with irritants like constituency projects or the levels of funding of the legislature.

Magu’s chairmanship of the EFCC was not re-presented for clearance.

In fact, you could safely say the only thing that changed was the leadership of the NASS and dates of passing budgets that haboured all the old interests.

A few events of recent suggest, however, that there is some movement in an otherwise  unchanging system of governance.

Nigerians may have missed a few tempers rise during hearings on the manner billions were allegedly being spent on them as palliatives before we all broke out of  COVID-19 lockdowns.

The ministry of humanitarian affairs locked horns with committees of the legislature.

At stake were two thoroughly familiar Nigerian characters: a governance system that is chronically allergic to openness and accountability, and a legislature that held the patent for dipping its hands into all executive and public pockets in the name of oversight.

There is a time-tested method of establishing that things have been settled satisfactorily for all sides.

This is when the issue disappears entirely and suddenly from the public realm, and the project or programme goes as originally planned.

It was an encounter that you knew will not quickly disappear from the public domain this time.

A minister telling a legislative committee that it had a  place in asking a few questions on policy design and sources of funding, strategies of implementation and standards of openness and accountability, but not in participating in running the programme.

In the event that this technical  language obscures the real issue, it is  this: the legislature was interested  in asking how many of the 774,000 public works positions available would be assigned to it to allocate to relations and loyalists, and Minister Keyamo was saying, none.

Legislators asked for a more appropriate setting to armtwist.

Keyamo says public hearings take place in public, so lets do it here.

That particular encounter ended with Keyamo looking like the winner.

It now turns out it was not the end of the fight, just a break from a bruising knockdown.

The legislature retreated, and has now fought back.

His senior minister, a veteran in dealing with the legislature led a team with a peace offering and an apology to the legislature.

Keyamo was part of the sorry team.

It must have been a humbling experience that should remind him that no one plays hero in the Buhari administration.

This small civil war may fizzle out with or without Keyamo as minister, but Nigerians are reminded that it is business as usual.

A much more damaging civil war under the administration appears to be reaching a climax and the possibility of an end, although given the nature of the interests and the deep divisions involved, no one should bet that another angle  in a factional fight will not manifest.

Virtually all of us are familiar with the facts. A policeman, Ibrahim Magu was nominated and his name submitted to the 8th Senate by President Buhari  for screening and clearance as chairman of EFCC.

Senate asked DSS to vet him. DSS said he was unfit for the position. Senate did not clear him.

Powerful people around the president were testing strength around the issue.

Magu sat in a very sensitive chair in acting capacity.

A few months later, the president again sent Magu’s name for screening and clearance. Senate asked DSS to comment.

DSS said it stood by its earlier position.

The president allowed Magu to continue to sit and supervise the war against corruption in acting capacity.

It was a position both sides in a vicious power fight around the president were uncomfortable with, but since they had not entirely lost out, they continued to plot.

Four years is enough time to collect or create dirt on any one.

With Lawal Daura and Abba Kyari out of the game, the factions for and against Magu lost and gained some clout.

Since Buhari returned for his second term, no one mentioned re-submitting Magu’s name to the Senate, nor was he replaced.

Finally, one side won a major battle. Magu was accused of assortment of offences and interrogated.

He now looks very much like a major casualty, but a bigger casualty is the image of a presidency that had tolerated a long damaging civil war involving very powerful and influential people around President Buhari.

Nigerians will now wait to hear of the offences committed by the number one corruption fighter.

More than that,  the world will want to know why an administration that came to power to fight corruption will sit over a man and his alleged offences for more than four years before it acts.

No one should leave his seat either.

This is unlikely to be the end of this war.

Certainly, it is unlikely to end the way Ribadu, Waziri, Lamorde ended.

Magu will not go down without a fight.

There could be other civil wars brewing.

It is in the nature of the administration.

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