the maina mystery
The Maina Mystery
By Julius Oweh
Mr Abdurasheed Maina was a level 14 civil servant who was more powerful than ministers and permanent secretaries during the Jonathan administration. Maina was always on foreign tour of President Goodluck Jonathan and he later became the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform. His job description was to clean the mess of the pension fund and give succour to the pensioners. Some reports credited him with high marks but he could not restrain his hands from the cookie jay. He was alleged to have embezzled two billion Naira of pension fund. Jonathan despite the hue and cry about the misdeed wanted to retain Maina at all cost until the senate under the leadership of Senator David Mark asked the president to choose between Maina and loyalty to the constitution. Maina was eventually fired and the EFCC declared him wanted. He fled the country and was declared wanted by the EFCC and placed on the official watch list of Interpol.
Today Maina is in the news because some cabal and deep rooted interest wanted to tell the nation that corruption was very much around. The civil servant who was declared wanted by the EFCC and sacked from his post returned and was elevated from an assistant director to a director and posted to the Ministry of Interior. This prompted the national assembly (senate and House of Representatives) to set up probe committees on the matter.
Senator Isa Misau who moved the motion for the probe could not have put the issue better :`When the person (Maina) left, he left as assistant director but when he was coming back, he was given the position of a director, not even a deputy director. And this person who is on the wanted list, when he came back, people saw policemen attached to him. I don`t understand why a government that is always talking about fighting corruption and the same people who are close to the president are covering people who are highly corrupt in the society`.
The senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki in concurring to the motion argued that the incident borders on security, the fight against corruption and the management of public service. The Maina mystery is nothing but the audacity of corruption and a few people who hold contempt and disdain for the rule of law, democracy and the rest of Nigerians who are very far from the corridor of power. It is a fitting tribute to President Muhammadu Buhari that he fired Maina. But he should move beyond that. The Head of Service, the Minister of Interior and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice should be disciplined. The way and manner these people are treated in this matter shall show the success of the anti-corruption crusade of the government. Integrity is much more than propaganda, you have to demonstrate it and majority of Nigerians are waiting for the president to do just that.
If it is true that Maina returned to the country and was moving around with police men, then the Minister of Interior, the boss of Custom and the Inspector General of the Police have questions to answer. At what point in time did he return from his self imposed exile? Did he pass the border or the airport? Who authorised the use of police as escort to a level 14 officer? What is the political connection of Maina that defied his most senior boss – the Head of Service? The senate has asked the president to sack the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, and Minister of Interior for their roles in this unfortunate and embarrassing saga. If heads must role, it must start from the Head of Service, the police and the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior. It is only hoped that the senate and House of Representatives committees shall walk the talk and make such that appropriate sanctions are meted out to those found culpable.
Beyond these accusations and counter accusations, the Maina issue has raised a fundamental question. That those around the president do not have the same mindset as the president as far as fighting corruption is concerned. Some of them believe that impunity and audacity of corruption can continue unchallenged. Fighting corruption can only be meaningful if those in the APC and government are given the same treatment as those in the PDP family. The moment you are selective in fighting corruption, then the whole exercise becomes a lousy housewife weekend romance to lure us away from the harsh realities of our situations. The Buhari administration is facing a credibility problem.
Furthermore, the echo of Mrs Aisha Buhari about cabal hijacking the government of her spouse is beginning to bear a semblance of reality. Not too long ago, Mrs Buhari also lamented on the state of Aso Rock clinic and the spin doctors of the government went to town that no money was budgeted for the clinic in 2016. They became dumb when confronted with the fact that 2015 budget was implemented by the Buhari administration. Running administration on lies and propaganda has become the password of the Buhari administration. The cabal indeed are in charge of the government.
The most painful aspect of the Maina mystery is the fate of pensioners who used their salad years in the service of the nation. The federal government must address this issue frontally. Even more painful is the piece of news that Maina was already preparing to be the governorship candidate of APC in his home state. Maina as a man must be very powerful and it would be naive for the rest of us to believe that he acted alone. The man surely has powerful persons in position and he pulled the strings to rubbish the anti-corruption crusade of the government. The sacking of Maina without prosecution and his allies in government, to say the least, is merely blowing the wind.
Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State.