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Will Change Begin With Buhari’s Cabinet? By Anthony Ademiluyi


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President Muhammadu Buhari rode on the crest of an anti-corruption crusader to cause the greatest electoral upset in Nigeria’s history last year. The mind boggling corruption allegations of the badly discredited Goodluck Jonathan administration made the retired General sell himself as a viable alternative.

Many pundits were worried that most of the people behind his campaign were not stellar examples of corrupt free politicians. It was clearly the case of strange bedfellows making a hurried alliance for the purpose of grabbing power for its mere sake. The fact that he refused to participate in the presidential debate raised a sturdy red flag but alas the unsophisticated electorate overlooked that important democratic aspect and gave him their votes.
Disillusionment set in rather early in the day as it took forever for Sai Baba to constitute his cabinet. It was an anti-climax when the list finally came out as it was nothing much to cheer about. It was crystal clear that the Daura born ‘Abraham Lincoln’ reincarnation had no agenda so one was forced to ask ‘Why run persistently over a twelve year period if there was no vision in the first place?’ What was he really trying to achieve?
Up till now we are yet to see a blueprint to get the country out of its worst recession in three decades and the only thing his apologists chant to the high heavens is his dogged fight against the hydra-headed monster of corruption.  He cut the picture of the ancient Spartans who neglected everything to only focus on military prowess. While their Athenian neighbours made giant strides in all areas of human endeavour, they were stuck with fighting endless wars and didn’t have the intelligence to effectively manage the spoils they gathered which only impoverished them till their eventual decline.
Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, one of the Judges whose home was raided by operatives of the Department of State Security accused the Ministers of Transport and Science & Technology, Rotimi Amaechi and Ogbonnaya Onu of attempting to bribe him to pervert the course of justice in the Ekiti, Rivers and Ebonyi elections. He claimed that Amaechi and Onu approached him on behalf of the APC and appealed to him to give favourable judgement to the ruling party. In his letter titled ‘Invasion of My House In The Night. Planting of huge sums of money In different currencies, Purported Recovery of the Money, Carting Away of My Documents and other Valuable Items and my subsequent abduction by Masked Operatives of the DSS between Friday, October 7th and Saturday October 8th 2016.” The Judge of the apex court alleged that Amaechi begged him to facilitate the removal of the garrulous Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose. He went further to say that after the affirmation of the victory of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, the transport minister called him up on the phone and told him that ‘Oga is not happy.’
As expected Amaechi through David Iyofor his media aide vehemently denied the allegations with Onu still maintaining a conspicuous silence on it at the moment.
These are extremely weighty allegations especially with the ‘Oga is not happy’ statement which is an allusion to Buhari and a subtle mockery of his anti-corruption crusade.
When Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister was accused of sodomy, the then Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammed wasted no time in ensuring that the former was tried and convicted. Mohammed made no attempt to obstruct the course of justice. The allegations against ‘super minister’ Amaechi and Onu are extremely weighty and they deserve a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of the matter. Denials are insufficient as the cardinal focus of this administration – the battle against corruption has been thrown to the fore. The mentioning of Buhari’s name is also something he has a vicarious liability to answer to us for.

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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair didn’t spare his education secretary, David Blunkett who was accused of having an affair with a married woman. Blunkett was an inspiration to many as he was the first visually impaired man to hold such a prestigious office but Blair allowed the law take its course and he was dismissed from the cabinet.
Amaechi is highly influential given the role he played in the last elections as the Director-General of Buhari’s campaign organisation. He literarily committed political harakiri in pitching his tent with Buhari against Jonathan who was once from Rivers State until 1996. He didn’t mind the accusations of betrayal leveled against him and was said to have broken the bank to ensure that his candidate emerged victorious at the polls. Buhari seemed to have reciprocated his ‘kind’ gesture by refusing to substitute his name when there was a delay tactics to prevent him from getting screened by the Senate. Not only did he give him the ‘juicy’ transport ministry portfolio, he ensured that two of his protégés, Dakuku Peterside and Ibim Semenitari got appointed as the Director-General of the National Maritime Safety & Administration Agency (NIMASA) and as the Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Will Buhari do the right thing by ensuring he gets thoroughly investigated and if possible prosecuted? Onu is also a die-hard Buhari loyalist and has been with him through thick and skin for well over a decade. In the cloak and dagger game of bread and butter politics as it’s played in the ‘Giant of Africa’, this is a rare trait in a politician. Would political expediency override the the need for a thorough investigation?
We remember that Kenneth Lay of the now moribund Enron was a personal friend of George .W. Bush for many years. The friendship didn’t save Kenny boy as Dubya fondly called him from getting behind bars.
Many Nigerians condemned the invasion of the Judges residences with the Nigerian Bar Association loudly criticizing the tactics of the DSS. However, the same NBA recently called for the Judges whose homes were raided to step down with immediate effect.
The tide is turning towards a complete cleaning of the Augean Stables and the process is incomplete without the probing of the connection of the two politicians aforementioned.
Buhari must start the cleansing from his cabinet and not perpetuate the culture of harbouring sacred cows. His inauguration speech where he made it clear that he belonged to everybody and nobody should be practicalised now.
This is no time for body language; this is the time for PMB to subject his two ministers to an unbiased investigation so that his anti-corruption fight doesn’t end up as a mere hogwash.


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