The return of the controversial ex-head of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Mr Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina into the country has ignited a firestorm of revelations which has threatened to not only consume prominent members of the Muhammadu Buhari administration but also the President himself.
President Muhammadu Buhari had asked for a report on the issue to be submitted to him by the Head of the Civil Service of the federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita on the circumstances surrounding Maina’s re absorption and promotion to the post of a Director in the civil service. She has submitted the report to the President. The President speaking through his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Femi Adesina on a television programme said that the report had come in and promised that the matter would not be swept under the carpet.
But Mr Maina has not being silent. In an interview he granted a television station whose video is currently trending online, he said that he is being subjected to relentless persecution and media trial because he stopped pension thieves from stealing N5.32 billion naira monthly from the office of the Head of Service and the Police Pension Office. He also said he was shot five times in a bullet proof car which Former President Goodluck Jonathan gave to him in 2013 and that was the resaon why he fled the country. His family have also risen stoutly in his defence. They say that their son is not a thief and that he was brought back into the country by agents of the Muhammadu Buhari administaration to continue the good work he left unfinished in 2013. They claimed that the houses seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were houses built by Maina’s father long before Maina was born and so could not have been bought with the proceeds of crime. Furthermore, posters of Maina have surfaced in Abuja signifying his intention to contest the gubernatorial election in Borno in 2019. This seems to be a calculated ploy by either Maina or his acolytes to create a whole new dimension to this debacle which is that he is being persecuted because of his political ambitions.
Oyo-Ita’s leaked memo to the President which indicates that the President not only had prior knowledge but also ordered Maina’s reabsorption and promotion in the civil service is a knotty issue. The million dollar question is ‘’ Would the President investigate himself since he has publicly feigned ignorance of the whole issue? If not, then who would investigate the President? Peradventure, the President is found culpable, can any disciplinary measures be instituted against him? The answers to these questions are better imagined. The supporters of the President can easily give the defence line that Oyo-Ita’s memo was doctored. Or that Abba Kyari, the President’s Chief of Staff who received the memo on behalf of the President was in actuality acting independent of the President and not on his behalf. That is actually a possibility considering that we are still a country of strong men and not strong institutions. Oyo-Ita’s leaked memo also revealed that she briefed Buhari verbally about the implications of the reinstatement of Maina especially the damaging impact on the anti-corruption war of the administration. But she failed to tell us what Buhari’s reaction was or if he said anything in response in her memo. Also, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami claimed that he acted purely in national interest. He needs to tell us what that national interest is. These and many more are the questions agitating the minds of Nigerians concerning the Maina case and the President needs to move fast in order to lay to rest these issues if he still wants to retain public confidence in his administration’s anti-graft war.