Mr Abdulrasheed Maina must be revelling in the superstardom, albeit, negative media blaze, that he has exposed himself to in the aftermath of the alleged pension fund fraud. It is possible that he is enjoying the whole scenario that has suddenly thrown him up as a public figure who has been making headlines in the media on a sustained basis. Okay, he is of a royal background from somewhere in the North East. He was also an obscure civil servant of the rank of Assistant Director when politicians brought him out into the limelight he was not yet ready for with his appointment as the chairman of the Pension Reform Task Form Team.
There are arguments that he was too junior in rank, at least by civil service regulations, to be saddled with such, as it has turned out, enormous responsibility that exposed him to the kind of budget and money even ministers do not have access to. It has happened before. What was the rank and age of Nuhu Ribadu in the Police Force when he was appointed chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)? Elsewhere in the United States of America, Lt Col Oliver North was a relatively unknown military officer when he was made an aide in the Reagan White House and was saddled with the famous Iran-Contra deal, a secret high octane international relations’ issue that set the US Congress reeling in anger and disbelief when it blew open. Often, age and rank in public service do not come into consideration when the system decides to use someone.
On the one hand, whoever made the appointment must have seen some qualities in him that could be put to good public use. On the other, it could have been a game by a well-placed politician in dire need of a fall guy. Someone easily malleable. Whatever is the case, Maina missed a golden opportunity to go into the history books as one who sanitised the pension system that has become so controversial as a result of deliberate mismanagement steeped in corruption and incalculable fraud.
Sadly, in our considered view, Maina, soon, became part of the controversy when humongous sums started flying around in the media suggesting that some people in and out of government are having a ball at the expense of hapless retirees and pensioners. Because of the filth being thrown up and those involved in it, it was unimaginable that even the police at that time could not do anything to deal with those alleged to have stolen their own pension money. The heat from the public reaction to the malfeasance was so intense that Maina could not bear it. He disappeared from the public glare, was declared wanted and reportedly sacked from the civil service. Recently, he reappeared and was reinstated in the same civil service and was promoted from the rank of Assistant Director to Full Director. Nigerians rose as one man and said no. In the ensuing blame game over who played what role in the return of Maina, he disappeared again and has since been talking to the rest of us from his hiding place. He has been releasing figures, money collected by people without mentioning names. Those money were not paid into ghost accounts. If they were, the government security apparatus should find a way to exorcise those accounts of their ghost element so that Nigerians can know who are involved. That is yet to happen. Instead, in a high stake sarcasm, the EFCC declared him wanted again. But Nigerians are not mocked as they insist that there is a lot more to the Maina connection in the pension fund fraud. The man and his family have been regaling the nation with snippets of what happened.
In our opinion, we think it is time to end this Maina saga. The security agencies cannot pretend not to know where the man is. The whole matter of pension fund fraud should be placed where it belongs- at the core of the anti-corruption campaign. We make this demand because many retirees and pensioners have died waiting in vain for their rights after serving their country meritoriously. As the nation’s security paraphernalia has seemingly proved incapable of resolving this show of shame that has attracted international ridicule to the country, the National Assembly should take up the responsibility of finding out what actually transpired and who the dramatis personae are. They should start from the previous administration. Even more importantly, if Maina thinks his hands are clean and he is not guilty as charged at the bar of public opinion, then, he should be man enough to come out from his hiding place and tell Nigerians his own side of the story, who did what and why. By all means, this macabre dance has to stop. The excitement is long lost.