OPINION: NEMA And The Vindication Of “Saint”  Maihaja By Kenneth-Kaunda Adamu 

Some Nigerian leaders would never desist from springing surprises. They have a predisposition to resurrect expired animosities with opponents. They play it out with embellished and dubious pretenses, unduly exploiting the advantage of strength of the current offices they occupy.

 

In such circumstances, the leaders mask the real motives and play the stroke of vengeance, as if it is for national or public interest.  It is done to earn undeserved public sympathy to their selfish cause.

This appears to be the raging controversy between the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and the Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Engr. Mustapha Maihaja, leading to an emergency probe of the agency. And behind the scenes, there is a third force, determinately pulling the cord of vindictiveness.

The third force is the Governor of Yobe State, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam  who has found a willing ally in Speaker Dogara. Gov. Geidam has picked enmity with Maihaja for challenging his suspect gubernatorial victory to the Apex court in the land.

So, Engr. Maihaja has “offended” two powerful personalities on the leadership corridors in Nigeria and he must necessarily be taught some bitter lessons, even when nothing concrete can be exhumed against him. It became easy for the duo to conspire and ignore, a more pungent case of alleged corruption in NEMA perpetrated by the former DG, Mr. Sani Sidi Mohammed and some six other directors to turn the heat on Maihaja.

Chairman, House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Hon. Ali Isa was quite lucid to reporters that the mandate of the committee was to investigate the operations of  NEMA  when Maihaja  resumed duty as  DG.  “We are not aware of anything concerning the former DG. I have not received any petition concerning that,” he instructively thundered.

But questionably, the allegations of breach of public trust involving billions of naira preferred against Maihaja, also extended into three or four months period of his predecessor. His plea that some of   the controversial N1.5 billion suspicious contracts were awarded in the agency by the former Director-General without proper documentation fell on deaf ears. The committee was just concerned with exploring the path of nailing Maihaja. So, it wondered far and near in search of evidence to hang him, by alleging multiple, but baseless financial infractions.

The eagerness, the emotions and naked anger, which the  Hon. Ali Isa led   House Committee approached the matter,  one thought, by now, it would have found veritable and water-tight evidence to excite their bosses on the culpability of Engr. Maihaja. But they are still groping in the dark, preferring to again ignore credible insights and evidence tendered by the NEMA boss, deflating the alleged infractions.

What has delighted the House committee in  highlighting in public  space is that the agency did not comply with the provisions of NEMA establishment Act which mandates it to liaise with its state counterparts during distribution of relief materials. This again was deflated by Maihaja, particularly in the case of Yobe state.

Gov. Geidam had stoutly opposed submissions by NEMA boss that it contacted the state government before distribution of relief materials, as stipulated in NEMA Act.  But the NEMA boss defrayed the argument by presenting a written communication of acknowledgement letter from Yobe state on the same issue the Governor vehemently faulted. The direction of the sponsors of the committee became clear.  Why would a personality as high as a Governor lie this blatantly.

Also noteworthy, NEMA is directly supervised by the Presidency, which is why the Vice President in any political dispensation is the statutory chairman of NEMA Governing Council.  But bent on delivering the hatchet job assigned to the committee, no one was prepared to respect the reality that some of the contracts were awarded based on Presidential orders as the exigency of the emergency situations demanded. And the contractors were selected based on their established competencies to deliver the consignments’ of relief food materials to IDP camps.

This is the extent of the apparent mission of vendetta, moored by the House committee’s public display of its vindictive motives, far from public interest. Therefore, the House of Reps led by Speaker Dogara  has advertised itself, as a legislature  in a rare display of his hatred for the Buhari Presidency.  There is no doubt that Dogara has set out on a clear mission to embarrass and ridicule the government of President Muhammadu  Buhari.

 

Speaker Dogara has gauged public emotions accurately and knows what would trumpet louder on President Buhari in the eyes of Nigerians is when the President or any of his appointees is pinned down on alleged corruption. Dogara is aware Buhari himself hates corruption and the only means to get his instant attention is to rob on him,   the prevalent mud of corruption in Nigeria, which the likes of Dogara are secretly promoting in their hallowed offices.

 

President Buhari’s thickness in integrity and incorruptibility is a source of worry to many leaders in Nigeria today, who are accustomed to the old order, like Speaker Dogara. In the past, Presidents of the country could be blackmailed, intimidated and arm-twisted in this manner and it worked for them. But today and in this instance of Engr. Maihaja it has failed to work. The kite has failed to fly.

Speaker Dogara and his anointed morticians’ in the House of Reps are immensely assisting Nigerians to prove that they are lawmakers still far from the preachments of the “change mantra” as spearheaded by President Buhari. And the President has several acolytes and firm believers in his personality and creed of governance. And once they are on the saddle, no kobo of public funds is misappropriated or embezzled.

Needless to say, the recent attempt by Speaker Dogara and his soul mates in the House to point piercing arrows at  NEMA’s DG  has exposed him  and  those associated with the plot as men on a mission in futility. The self-imposed assignment has rather portrayed them as men who can sacrifice national interest just to please their selfish ego and extract vengeance.

No Nigerian is in doubt at the moment that the Speaker and his committees has failed, after it inextricably trapped itself in making bogus claims and unable to substantiate a single one till date.  Shamefully though, the committee rather ordered for the reinstatement of  the indicted and sacked directors, suspended  to allow the EFCC a neutral and unobstructed access to full investigation of their complicity in the alleged N2. 5 billion fraud standing against them.

 

It is this bad and worrisome to most Nigerians. The committee completely blurred this case for reasons best known to them.

 

It is just germane that the most appropriate step to take now by Speaker Dogara and his team is to first apologize to President Buhari unreservedly. The apology should later extend to the  NEMA DG,  Engr. Maihaja, someone regarded as a saint and his family for the trauma and embarrassment these few weeks.

He is being tormented a lot in the hands of a Legislature, obviously more prepared to diminish its integrity in personal vendetta. These are upright leaders who have refused to compromise their integrity by  “playing the usual Nigerian ball,” with public funds.

K. K Adamu wrote from Lugard Centre, Lokoja.

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