By Suleiman Yakubu

In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, during his visit to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, President Muhammadu Buhari revealed that there are saboteurs in his administration and this is not surprising especially in the light of the scandalous padding of the 2016 budget. Considering the president’s zero tolerance for corruption and how he has taken deliberate steps to close every loophole so that this year’s budget is not unnecessarily inflated as usual, you must agree that it was the work of his detractors, those bent on rubbishing his efforts, even staining his reputation.

Nevertheless, this is not the first time that a Nigerian president would cry out that there are those working against him in his inner circle. Former president Goodluck Jonathan cried out at the height of the insurgency sometimes in 2013 that there were saboteurs in his cabinet leaking official security details to the dreaded sect.

Today, with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that he was very correct. Now we know that those we entrusted with the security of this nation, at a time when we were virtually at war, when the lives of many innocent Nigerians were daily been cut short in their primes, were busy helping themselves to the billions of dollars earmarked to equip our military. Worst still, it was those at the highest level of security operations that were compromised. They include former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki and ex Chief of Defence Staff Alex Badeh among other prominent Nigerians.  

Needless to say, but Buhari’s case is the result of corruption fighting back. The truth is that he has been able to close many avenues for corruption especially through his Treasury Single Account (TSA), and even in the petroleum industry, which was heavily infested by corruption; a lot has been done to ensure that it was no longer game as usual.

However, this is not the first time that corruption would fight back.

One example happened in March 2012. It was during an investigation into the dwindling fortunes of the Capital Market by the House Committee on Capital Market. It was alleged that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may have been compromised by Access Bank Plc who have been severally accused of unethical and sharp practices in the banking sector especially in the stock market. The allegation became stronger when the then director general of SEC, Ms Arunmah Oteh, admitted under oath that fateful Wednesday afternoon before the committee that two Access Bank Plc staffers, who are currently occupying strategic positions in the regulator, were seconded from Access Bank Plc and are being paid by the bank, among other allegations of impropriety. Sadly, on day two of the investigation, Oteh, jolted Nigerians by alleging that she was intimidated by the chairman of the House Committee on Capital Market, Hon. Herman Hembe because she refused to agree to demands for N39 million and N5 million bribes by the committee to support the public hearing into the crisis in the capital market. As fallout from this, the Lower Chamber of the National Assembly asked its Committee on Capital Market to discontinue the investigation, opting instead to set up an ad-hoc panel to do the job.

Another case happened during the oil subsidy probe of 2012. We were all happy that the notorious cabal that has swindled the nation for so long through a questionable oil subsidy regime would finally be unmasked. The investigation was moving smoothly and several revelations were made about how funds were siphoned over the years, but just when the investigation was rounding off the cabal stroked. Farouk Lawan, who was the chairman of the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee that probed the oil subsidy scam, was accused of collecting $620,000 (or $500,000) from the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas, Femi Otedola, to doctor the panel’s report, and it was all on video. We all knew it was a setup, but he fell for it and the whole thing was rubbished.

The third instance was that of former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (now Emir of Kano, HRH Mallam Muhammad Sanusi II). He was suspended before his tenure as CBN governor ended for daring to speak against the corruption going on at the NNPC at that time. On Sanusi’s suspension, Dr Reuben Abati, former special adviser to the president on media and publicity said “…the president took the action following reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicated that Sanusi’s tenure was characterised by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct”. But you can be sure that it was simply a case of corruption fighting back.

If you recall, James Ibori a former governor of Delta State dealt with former EFCC boss Mallam Nuhu Ribadu during Yar’Adua (Ibori’s friend) administration for daring to arrest and prosecute him for corrupt practices. He ensured that Ribadu was first compulsorily sent to be a student at Nigerian Institute of Policy Strategic Studies in Kuru, where he had earlier taught, before he was removed from the force among other humiliations including threats to his life. But after Yar’Adua’s death Ibori ran to Dubai from where he was taken to UK and convicted for stealing and is currently serving a jail term.

Now, corruption is trying to fight back at Buhari or rather his government. It is necessary that the saboteurs in this administration are fished out and decisively dealt with. He can begin by getting those who padded the 2016 budget to forestall future occurrences. In fact the success or otherwise of this administration depends on getting them. Such undesirable elements were the reason why our fuel and electricity supply remain grossly inadequate for generations despite the astronomical amount expended to improve their performances. We either get them or the much desired ‘change’ that we all came out to vote for would remain but an illusion.