The former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Malam Abdulrasheed Maina, was recently reported to have offered to help the federal government recover $10 billion (N4 trillion) of stolen funds within 30 days. In the said report, he claimed to possess the technical expertise required to perform such a task.
He also said that if given the task, he will report directly to President Muhammadu Buhari to whom he will hand over the recovered funds for fear that the recovered funds may be re-looted. This offer from Maina would have been attractive if the nation did not know the man and his record as chairman of PRTT and how he became a fugitive from justice midway into his tenure when he was alleged to be unable to account for part of the pension fund.
In the opinion of this newspaper, Maina’s offer of assistance reminds one of the offer by Anini, the notorious armed robber who terrorised Benin, Edo State and its environs ruthlessly in the 1980s. When he was eventually caught and brought to justice and was tied to the stake to face firing squad, he offered to help the Police fight crime and even promised to help rope in his comrades-in-crime if spared. The then Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Muhammadu Gambo told him to face his nemesis.
In our considered opinion, the nation and, in particular, the President must not give Maina any attention. Or for that matter, get him involved in any matter relating to the issue he raised in the report. We do not need his type to recover stolen money. In Nigeria’s local parlance, it is said that it takes a monkey to catch a monkey. But certainly not at this time when Nigerians are beginning to raise questions about the effectiveness or otherwise of the anti-corruption campaign of this administration.
To this extent, therefore, we as a newspaper vehemently oppose any idea being nursed in any quarter regarding the probability of giving Maina another chance to take Nigerians for a ride. Under no circumstance must this be allowed to happen. Besides, what is disturbing is that he had the effrontery to make such a suggestion to Nigerians. It is an indication that memories are very short in this clime. With all the scandals generated by his activities as chairman of that Task team, and for him to indulge in such a conjecture, is prove that the nation still has a long way to go in the search for moral rectitude.
But knowing this country and the kind of stunts we are capable of staging, it may not be a surprise to realise that someone may have broached such an idea with him and he decided to fly a kite to see how the nation will react to that. In the same report in which he made the unholy offer, he was touted as a very effective and efficient stolen money recovery agent for successive administrations including this one headed by Buhari. If he was that saintly, why was he on the run? The only interpretation of that report is that someone, indeed, is thinking in that direction.
We recall that but for the uproar raised by Nigerians, this same man would have been reinstated into the civil service at a very senior level after years of being on the run because of his inability to satisfactorily explain the activities of his task team. We have not forgotten that he was arrested and brought home to have his day in court. We are also not aware that the court has acquitted him as far as the charges brought against him are concerned.
All said, and knowing the man the country has as President, especially his fame as a man of integrity, there is no way such an appointment can be made. In our considered opinion, there are many Nigerians with far more credible credentials who can be saddled with the responsibility of recovering stolen money. Men and women without blemish, not someone who, in the psyche of the average Nigerian, is presumed to be tainted. There is the likelihood that should that offer be taken up by the government, majority of Nigerians will, in all righteousness, feel justifiably insulted.
However, Maina may wish to have a second chance in such a highly sensitive public service department if we are convinced that in his first outing he was adjudged clean. That allegations against him were baseless and without merit. At the moment, there is no such clean bill of health in his favour. His case is still out there unresolved. That is the more reason why, in our view, he should have restrained himself and resisted the push to request to be put in charge of matters relating to stolen funds.