Africans say a mosquito may not have much to show, but it has a voice for humming songs. The brewing scandal started by Honourable Muhammed Gudaji is gradually becoming serious and can inflict serious damage on the Buhari administration.
Many think the legislator is disgruntled about losing an electoral seat and the figures he was spitting out are doubtful. However, one can learn a few things from his narrations. Those following the story with an open mind saw elements of truth when he presented evidence that Buhari appointed him to work as a secretary of the Presidential Committee to recover and reconcile all stamp duties from banks.
Eyebrows were raised when Garba Shehu decided to become the spokesperson of the CBN governor when he came out to debunk Gudaji’s initial comment. Those who thought it was just a storm in a teacup will begin to rethink it after the report that a Federal High Court in Abuja declined the Department of State Services (DSS) application to arrest and detain Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The CBN governor is being accused of atrocious crimes. Of course, this is not the first time this government has been involved in high scandals and in-house dramas. The country witnessed the episode between the First Lady, Aisha Buhari and Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura. There was an episode between former DSS boss, Lawal Daura and the former EFCC boss, Magu. The two military Chiefs, Lt Gen Buratai and Air Marshall Abubakar had their episode. Now, it is Emefiele vs Bichi. One wonders if we will ever see a more dysfunctional government.
Optimists may highlight that scandals in this government often fade away regardless of their significance to national security. In a few cases, there have been convictions, but mainly for those at the lower level of the food chain, while the big fish are ignored. Okupe’s case comes to mind. In cases where it will attract national interest, different creatures – snakes, monkeys, or termites – are brought into the conversation. In bigger situations, arson ends the discussion even if it involves environmental degradation.
In a political season like this, one wonders if they would survive this one. Gudaji’s exposé needs to be handled with utmost professionalism and maturity. Otherwise, it can have serious security and political implications for the country. For the objective mind, there are three things to note from this scandal.
First, Gudaji’s opinion of the president, which his spokespersons did not debunk, confirms that Buhari has a weak character, especially in fighting corruption. He said once Buhari trusts a person, he allows God to judge their actions even if it is questionable. It is contrary to what the electorate thought about Buhari before they voted him into office in 2015. Buhari would not have been voted in if people knew he had such weak leadership skills.
Second, the exposé confirms that the Buhari administration has a lot of ongoing suspicious activities that may infringe on national and economic security. The former Transportation Minister, Amaechi, highlighted the security funding lapse that could have mitigated the Abuja-Kaduna train attack. He also insinuated that the minister of petroleum, the president, should be responsible for stopping the oil theft in the country and accounting for the finances of the new NNPC. The finances of the NNPC are a very significant revenue stream to the country, especially when world oil prices have risen.
The latter brings us to the third point, the need for accountability in peculiar government agencies. The Buhari administration was voted to eradicate corruption, solve insecurity and revamp the economy. However, despite efforts, the evidence does not show a significant improvement.
Accountability lies at the heart of every democratic government. The current system displays critical weaknesses, but they can be addressed.
Looking back, when Sanusi Lamido made accusations of unremitted funds by the NNPC to the federation account, the government appointed PwC to do a forensic audit on the company. The current CBN governor has reported that NNPC has not remitted funds to the federation account throughout 2022. Buhari and the NNPC GMD also confirmed it. One wonders why the Buhari administration refuses to follow such a good practice.
Despite blowing the whistle, Emefiele has a strong questionable character. He is the same person who violated the CBN Act to contest for president under the ruling party. His dual foreign exchange regimes are allegedly involved in massive corruption cases. Recently, Emefiele said the Bankers’ Committee had raised the amount it planned to spend to rehabilitate the National Arts Theatre from $100 million to $200 million. Even Gudaji confirms what others have been saying – that Emefiele can make a billionaire overnight.
The call for accountability will likely fall on deaf ears as the administration has built a strong culture of secrecy that shields its ministers and senior public servants from scrutiny. The public should build on this story to ensure the government is held accountable in departments like DSS, NNPC, CBN and other departments under the ministry of defence and finance.
Holding these government representatives to account and sanctioning their poor performance is key to ensuring Buhari’s legacy of fighting corruption and insecurity and improving the economy becomes successful. With 23 weeks to go, it may be too late for him to take the credit, but at least the country will benefit in the long run.
Gudaji’s exposé includes some unfathomable figures, similar to what the dethroned emir did in 2013. It has the potential to open a can of worms in a season like this. The default outcome will be for it to fade away, but remember that anyone who thinks a mosquito is too small to make a difference have not spent the night with it.