The miracle of Maina
Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, a former unknown civil servant, is currently writing the story of Nigeria. At a point in time, every nation must have her story written. The writers do not have to be presidents or leaders; they may be ordinary people; the alternative social actors. In the case of Nigeria, a certain Maina, a former Assistant Director in the nation’s civil service, is the one who has the historical (mis)fortune of penning the Nigerian story. And he’s doing it with aplomb and near-manic zeal.
Maina was considered to be a good man. As Assistant Director (Level 14), he was saddled with the task of prying into the books and ledger of the nation’s pension managers. He was eminently appointed the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms. By inference, he was the chosen one, carefully handpicked to reform pensions’ administration which was said to be stewed in the juice of corruption and tardiness. It was a privileged task in which Directors (Level 16 officers) were not even considered worthy to discharge. There must be something in Maina and about Maina that made him the Special One for this special job.
But Maina is a Nigerian, a civil servant for that matter. Those who appointed him to catch pension thieves knew he has the capacity to catch the crooks who profited from pension funds meant for some Nigerians some of whom stole more than enough from the system hence do not really need the pension dough. The Special One lived up to billing. He showed his mettle and in a matter of months after scrutinizing the books, he was said to have helped himself to just a few billion naira. Not much, considering that in Nigeria trillions have been stolen by those in the public and private space and the system rather than punish the clan of thieves decorates them with national honours and several garlands that even the most most-hardworking do not get in their lifetime.
In life, they say the reward for hard work is more work. A corollary is, in Nigeria the reward for stealing is more stealing, more opportunity to steal. This is the only country in the world where people become billionaires and multi-millionaires by doing some years in the public service. Consider this list: Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku Abubakar, T.Y Danjuma, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Patience Jonathan, Tukur Buratai, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, fugitive Diezani Madueke, et al. These are billionaires and multi-millionaires who attained such fiscal status on account of their passage through the nation’s public service space. I mean, they served their fatherland and landed in big fortunes. Nigeria pays, my dear.
So, Maina also was chosen to serve and he allegedly helped himself to a few billions and all hell is now loose, what an insult? Maina is a Nigerian for crying out loud. He did not act alone. President Buhari ordering his sack has not helped any matter. It has even opened another dimension to the Mainamania. Who recalled Maina back to office at a time he was under interdiction? Who authorized his double promotion from Assistant Director to Director? The Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, has exculpated herself from the Maina puzzle. She said she did not know anything about Maina’s recall and promotion, yet she is the Head of Service.
If she doesn’t know, at least two key persons in the life of this government are clearly in the know. The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and Interior Minister Abdulrahman Danbazzau, know every detail of the saga. Now, the Senate wants the duo punished by President Buhari for their alleged roles in the Maina miracle of recall and double promotion.
Senator Isah Hamma Misau (Bauchi South) put it most eloquently: “You will see the story of somebody who has been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). We read how the man who was declared wanted and was said to be abroad came back to Nigeria miraculously.
“Going by the newspaper publications, somebody wanted by the EFCC left the country for so many years. He was dismissed from the service. He was out for a long time, but smuggled into the service. He left the country as an assistant director. Today, he is a director.
“We even heard that he goes about with police escort. I wonder how a government that claims to be fighting corruption will be involved in a matter like this. This is a big embarrassment for this country. The people around the President are not helping matters. It appears that the President is the only one talking about corruption. Other people around him are protecting corrupt people. The AGF was mentioned and other people were mentioned. We investigated this case in the 7th Assembly. I am calling on the Senate to investigate this case again.”
Nigerians should not lose sleep over the Maina matter. He was appointed by Goodluck Jonathan. He was very powerful then; the Senate which is pretending now not to know details of the Maina miracle investigated him then and found him culpable. But there was a stinging allegation that Maina and his men bribed some senators to buy their silence. The senate should also investigate the roles played by some of their members in the past when Maina was writ large, moving around in motorcade with a battery of police escorts.
The Maina saga only tells the Nigerian story. It is a lesson for those who label PDP corrupt and APC or any other political party as incorruptible. Nigerian politicians are the same. The only difference is the broom and umbrella or any other emblem that symbolizes the parties. The political operatives are the same. If Maina is a crook as some people are striving to label him, what about those who creatively worked him back to service and patted his back with promotion. What can be more corrupt than that? Maina was Jonathan’s main man, now he has become Buhari’s right hand man; don’t be fooled by Mr. Buhari’s sack order. Remember Jonathan also sacked him from service. If the President is serious about his anti-corruption posturing, he should not waste time to suspend the two ministers who are in the midst of this latest corruption storm.
But this is Nigeria, the drama nation where thieves are chiefs. Maina’s family, expectedly, has come out to defend their son. He is not a fraudster but a messiah who brought reforms to pension administration in the country, they say. And who can begrudge them? They are only following a familiar Nigerian script where people take ownership of crime because the suspect is of their religious stock or from their ethnic nationality.
I wager that Maina is only just a fall guy. We should not demonise him. He acted in concert with both PDP and APC politicians and appointees. Reporting Maina, an appointee of the PDP to the APC is like reporting a thief to an armed robber. They smell the same. And why is the EFCC suddenly running around town sealing property of the same man they declared wanted over two years ago? Magu’s EFCC has just read the President’s body language and Pronto, they went to town. What an independent anti-crime agency, really.
Don’t expect too much from this drama. It will blow away. In Nigeria, time heals everything. If Maina is allowed to say all he knew about the whole saga, both PDP and APC politicians would be smelling like rotten egg. Maina’s family is sure of this. His brother, Aliyu, in a presser, said the police, DSS, and top Buhari men all knew how Maina returned to the country. He said they were the ones who convinced Maina, a proven change agent, to return to his job and join in the ‘Change’ government.
So, why all the fuss? Please, let Maina be. Rather than call for his head, we should include his name in the next National Honours’ list. He is not different from most holders of GCFR, GCON, CON, OFR, and the rest.
Culled from Sunday Sun