To be honest, no administration in Nigeria has ever lacked a fair share of critics who are ever so quick to spin a president’s action or speech to fit their negative narratives. But no administration has been so unfairly targeted by a section of public commentators as the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Right from the inception of his administration, this category of critics had risen up in arms against the administration as if Buhari was a usurper who dethroned the legitimate ruler of their kingdom.
To these critics, or those Femi Adesina, Presidential Spokesman, appropriately called “the wailing wailers,” it does not matter whether or not the President’s actions or utterances are in public interests. Their pre-occupation is to pull him down and cast him and his administration in the garb of ethnic and religious bigotry. More unpatriotic and damaging is their penchant to lampoon the administration’s fight against corruption as phony and targeted only at the President’s perceived political enemies.
Unfortunately, due to the President’s characteristic taciturn nature, some of these fallacious postulations have assumed the complexion of truth. This has also robbed off on cabinet ministers and other political appointees perceived as close to the President. The worst victim of this calumny is the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who has been demonised and cast as the official Judas Iscariot of the Buhari administration.
This is the impression one is bound to get after reading a Punch newspaper editorial of January 16 captioned, “Malami’s curious bid to protect Maina.” The paper asserted that Malami defied logic when he reportedly went to court to stop the senate from probing Abdulrasheed Maina, a former Presidential Pension Reform Taskforce Team, and that his action posed “a patent embarrassment to the government.”
Expectedly, the diatribe was extended to President Buhari as the paper, with a tone of finality, declared that “Without a doubt, the AGF’s action raises questions which impinge heavily on Buhari’s personal integrity and claim to fight corruption.
The paper made no attempt in its editorial, contrary to editorial objectivity, to give the AGF benefit of doubt by examining possible reasons why the nation’s chief law officer could have taken such a step. Malami’s action was simply interpreted as fitting a narrative of giving cover to alleged corrupt persons.
Nothing can be more unfair and evil than to subject a public officer to such scathing commentary based on pre-conceived bias. Not only are the allegations untrue, but the AGF is one of Buhari’s appointees that has an impressive anti-corruption stance that is well-known to those in government.
The facts on Mainagate contradict the obvious plot to tarnish the image of the AGF. The paper said Buhari ordered Maina’s immediate sack after he had been re-instated. Now, Buhari could not have done this without the advice of his chief law officer. What that means is that Malami must have been as scandalised as Buhari about the whole saga.
The president also ordered an investigation into how Maina was allegedly re-absorbed into the civil service. The Punch is quite aware of this but said it was curious that the president was yet to make the outcome of the investigation public.
Is Punch saying that the investigation was taking too long, and so something fishy must be going on? Who by now is not aware of President Buhari’s style when it comes to issues of alleged corruption? The president is never in a hurry to condemn, but takes his time to be sure he’s going to take the right action and punish the right people.
Some critics may find this unacceptable, but it does not amount to condoning corruption or undermining the anti-corruption war.
While AGF and the Presidency were taking action to get to the root of the Mainagate, the senate waded in and said it was also investigating the matter. Who does not know what National Assembly investigations are about? They are never intended to find out the truth, but to intimidate government officials for reasons we all know.
Yet the AGF and others submitted themselves to this so-called investigation, and we all saw the drama that played out. Has the Punch bothered to ask about the senate report on the investigation? How has the senate investigations brought us closer to solving the Maina riddle?
Now pray, what fresh investigations does the senate want to carry out again on the Mainagate? In a democracy where there is clear separation of powers, why is the country’s highest legislative chamber poking its nose into what is clearly outside its jurisdiction? The AGF had asked the court to determine whether the National Assembly has the right to probe issues relating to the employment and disengagement or promotion of civil servants, among other pleas. Does it not amount to contempt of court for the senate to seek to proceed with such investigations when its jurisdiction is being questioned in the court of law? Should the AGF turn himself into a lame duck government lawyer by allowing the probe go ahead?
If the intention of the senate is altruistic, why would it not wait for the court determination of the case as Malami Seeks? The AGF is not asking that the investigation of Maina be stopped; rather it is who has the constitutional right to do the investigation. If we’re interested in getting to the truth as the Buhari administration is, subjecting the investigation to legislative drama is unhelpful. This is the concern of the AGF and not the insinuations that have been attributed to his action.
Nigerians are a people in a hurry for success. This is a positive Nigerian spirit. But an administration’s actions must be judged against its character. The Buhari administration is pains-taking and thorough, making it look slow and inactive. But the truth is that it is an administration that may be slow, but one that is making steady progress in all the task it set for itself.
– Suleiman wrote from Abuja.