by Tolulope Omoyeni
With each passing day since President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as president in May 2015, his administration has been characterized by scandals relating to corruption, ineptitude and mismanagement all played out by cabinet ministers, lawmakers and the most recent, being the Secretary General of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.
Findings from the Senate ad hoc committee’s investigations into the mismanagement of funds originally meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East reveal that an ICT company, Global Vision Ltd, purportedly owned by the SGF was awarded a grass clearing contract worth over N200 million. According to the Nigerian Senate, Babachir Lawal was a director of the company up until September 2016 when he resigned – and the said contract was awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE) in March.
All of these going against the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution which states that: “A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities,” and right under the watch of President Buhari who was voted in for what Nigerians supposed was an iron hand – the type that would rid the country of corruption in all its form, as he swore to do.
The Buhari administration promised to be a whiff of fresh air, “a new era” like every government on all the levels promise upon inauguration. But it’s been one year and seven months and the signs are loud and clear. President Buhari’s government appears no different from his predecessor’s, the promise of Change was a bait-and-switch. Nothing has changed and from what we see, in the next two and a half years that constitute the rest of this administration, more scandals will arise.
The previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has been heavily condemned and blamed for the malfunctioning economy by President Buhari but in comparing both administrations, it’s not a tough job deciphering that they are becoming almost exactly alike.
When Stella Oduah, aviation minister in Jonathan’s administration was accused of massive fraud in the remodelling of 22 airports in the country and the purchase of two bullet-proof cars, President Jonathan purposely stayed away from the controversy. No reactions whatsoever and of course, no actions on his part. Today, the same woman who was paraded as heavily corrupt is a member of the upper legislative chamber of the 8th Senate.
In similar circumstances, the infamous budget padding scandal that rocked the House of Representatives had every concerned Nigerian weighing in on the matter, except President Buhari. In place of his silence, he held four separate meetings with the Speaker of the House who was at the centre of all the padding accusations and till date, no arrests or prosecutions have been made by the EFCC.
We can never forget the Dasuki scandal that amounted in the embezzlement of $2billion that was originally allocated for the procurement of arms to fight the Boko Haram insurgency at the time. The diversion of the arms funds was diverted through the office of the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki. At the time, there were allegations that some of the funds were channeled towards President Jonathan’s re-election. Investigations into the scandal did not begin until the new administration was ushered in.
Though this may not carry the same weight when it comes to the amount of money involved but the Babachir Lawal scandal earlier referenced is similar to the Dasuki scandal. Two top government officials allegedly siphoning funds that are meant for easing the pain of Nigerians in the North who are victims of insurgency. We are waiting to see how President Buhari will deal with this scandal before him. It’s another test of the president’s anti-corruption stance and though he has failed on this too many times, here’s another chance to prove himself.
The unsolved deaths that have plagued the NYSC scheme till now are not new. During the Jonathan administration, scores of corps members were killed during elections in different parts of the country. Calls were made for the scheme to be scrapped as it has outlived its relevance but no action was taken to that effect.
We have seen the same under President Buhari, the NYSC just like many other government agencies has not seen any improvement in performance, productivity, and attitude to work. Things may have gotten worse in fact, as the president proved himself insensitive when he reacted to the recent deaths of three corps members two weeks after the tragic events.
We can go on with the examples but the point is clear, the scandals springing up under this administration may end up overrunning those of the previous administration. This will be blight on Buhari’s image as he has spent a better part of his term in office blaming the previous administration for everything that has gone wrong. Mr. President desperately needs to do better.