I commend acting President Yemi Osinbajo for finding the courage to fire the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, over last week’s attempted coup in the National Assembly.
President Muhammadu Buhari was on “vacation” when the events unfolded, but it is quite clear he would never have fired Daura, a kinsman whom he appointed in 2015.
Buhari boasts endlessly about his anti-corruption mission, but anyone who has paid attention to the facts knows he not only lacks the heart for true anti-corruption combat, he has only hollow words against rotten officials, particularly his own.
Mercifully, he was away last week when Daura fell, but Buhari will be back, and I predict he will find a way to appease his kinsman, as he did former Secretary to the Government Babachir Lawal, a man who had no compunction about starving IDPs and babies to death.
When local and international pressure finally compelled Buhari to let the man go, Lawal was allowed the pleasure of determining his replacement. It was neither a surprise he chose his kinsman nor that he has retained a pervasive presence in the presidency. In Buhari’s universe, nepotism is not a dirty word but a symbol of power, and corruption is something only the other side can be guilty of. The Buhari who did not indict that Lawal will not prosecute this Daura.
But the real coup last week was not at the National Assembly. It was the All Progressives Congress’ courtship of Godswill Akpabio, the Senate Minority Leader and former governor of Akwa Ibom, towards his defection.
This—not Daura’s smoke and mirrors that may be Daura’s smoke but not his mirrors, or vice versa—clarifies the depth of the quicksand in which Nigeria dances.
Days ahead of his defection, which was celebrated on Wednesday, Mr. Akpabio met in London with the medical-vacationing President Buhari as part of the high-level romance. He then returned to Nigeria to meet with officials of the APC, including National Leader Bola Tinubu and party chairman Adams Oshiomhole.
On Wednesday, APC, embarrassed and bleeding profusely from wounds inflicted by swathes of defecting members, rolled out a statewide red carpet in Akwa Ibom to welcome Akpabio.
Who is Akpabio? Four years ago, I used him as a metaphor for Nigerian greed, and now he emerges as the clearest proof of how fraudulent and confused the APC is.
On Wednesday, Oshiomhole shamelessly welcomed him as a “man of honour” and characterized him as an “uncommon defector” who had demonstrated “uncommon transformational qualities.”
Akpabio himself took the microphone and advanced the fiction: He joined APC, he said, to help “sweep away poverty and impunity…and salvage the country.”
No bigger lies have ever been told. If anything, Akpabio’s political life has been dedicated to a life of affluence—including buying and chartering of luxury aircraft and automobiles at public expense—alongside the perpetuation of poverty and impunity.
As a senator, his official monthly salary, as confirmed by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC), is N1.06m, or about N13m per year. But we now know that each Senator illegally helps himself to over N157m in annual “running costs,” a consolidated annual salary of N9m, and N200m in “constituency” funding.
That is an international scandal, and the very definition of impunity, but the Akpabio who says he wants to “salvage” Nigeria has not returned one kobo of what he has looted or even called this practice by its name. Yet, this is the man APC is feting even at presidential level and anointing as “transformational.”
And remember also that as approved by RMFAC, the senators also receive a once-a-tenure furniture allowance and severance gratuity of over N6m each. There is an optional motor vehicle loan of over N8m, but it is unclear how—or whether—that relates to the luxury cars the Upper House is known to have imported and distributed to its members.
Self-centredness and greed travel together, a point infamously and sensationally demonstrated by Akpabio himself in 2014 when he shoveled through the state Assembly, the Akwa Ibom State Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Bill.
He ordered the bill passed in just days—and it was—to provide him with: A five-bedroom mansion in Abuja or Akwa Ibom and the construction of a fully-furnished mansion as a retirement home; brand new cars for life; furniture allowance of 300 per cent of annual basic salary once in every four years; yearly maintenance and fueling of vehicle allowance of 300 per cent of annual basic salary; severance gratuity allowance of 300 per cent of annual basic salary; yearly utility allowance of 100 per cent of annual salary; entertainment allowance of 100 per cent of annual basic salary. Free medical services for himself and his spouse “at a sum not exceeding N100 million or an equivalent of $600, 000, 00; ” and up to $50,000.00 per month to hire cooks, chauffeurs and security guards.
Consider that that was authored by a man who now claims he wants to end impunity. Worse still, consider that this man is being hailed by APC as a hero simply because he left PDP.
As I have previously written, APC’s biggest problem is the intellectual deficit, a condition which makes it to under-estimate the people it professes to serve. APC believes it is okay to drink sewage if it drinks it with a straw.
Because of this problem, APC engages dumb people, including certificate forgers and half-baked propagandists and those who justify them, and does daft things that can only appear to the daft to be otherwise. Because of layers of agendas within, around and on top of it, the party is incapable of thinking straight. It preaches accountability but has forgotten what it means. APC advocates CHANGE but insults the concept. It mistakes poison for treatment.
Making Akpabio the poster-boy of its power and ambition demonstrates the point. And APC does this for a former governor who has been under investigation by the EFCC since losing immunity in 2015, accused of diverting hundreds of billions of naira during his governorship. To Akpabio’s self-serving claims in APC circles that the agency has nothing against him, the EFCC affirmed last week it is continuing its investigations.
But the Buhari government, which has recruited a lot of shady characters in the past two years to boost its chances of staying in power, which is more important than Nigeria, believes it owns the EFCC. With people like Akpabio to reinforce a propaganda-prone mindset, perhaps it does.
This is why the Akpabio, not the Daura, was last week’s frontline coup against the people by a government that has lost perspective. The chaos of values being presented by the APC government portend very dangerous times for Nigeria.
As part of the twisted narrative, Oshiomhole, the new attack dog, has now dismissed Buhari’s critics as “saboteurs and thieves.”
How do you sabotage the saboteur? And are they not thieves simply because they stole their way into the palace instead of out of it?
This is not about the PDP, which was terrible. It is about APC, which, in three years, has proved to be infinitely more pathetic.
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