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It’s the last day of 2017 and the drama won’t stop coming for the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government and the people of Nigeria.
For the ordinary people, however, many will agree that in the outgoing year, the Federal Government, has recorded more lows than highs, the latest being the appointment of at least eight dead people into the boards of some government agencies and institutions.
Here are just nine highlights of 2017 that the Federal Government would not like to recall.
FEC’S ‘MARCHING ORDERS’ TO KACHIKWU ON FUEL QUEUES
Nigeria’s historic albatross, fuel scarcity, reared its ugly head in the opening days of December, and in what sounded like an army commander dishing orders to subordinates, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), after the meeting of December 6, ordered Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, to ensure that the fuel queues disappeared by weekend.
The weekend of that week was between December 8 and 10, but here we are, 12 more days after, and the queues have only worsened.
Meanwhile, for weeks, nothing was heard from the substantive Petroleum Minister, who happens to be none other than President Buhari himself.
And in what many Nigerians interpreted as a ‘go-to-hell’ move, Kachikwu’s rapper-son, known better by his stage name, Kach, released a music video, right in the heart of the biting fuel scarcity, featuring — wait for it — Dino Melaye, the controversial senator whose passion is gathering expensive automobiles and flaunting them.
The senior Kachikwu was in the spotlight earlier in the year when his memo to Buhari accusing Maikanti Baru, the NNPC Group Managing Director, of insubordination and abuse of office, was leaked to the media.
THE SHEKAU DEADLINE
In July, Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff, gave the officers and men involved in the counter-insurgency operations in the North East a 40-day deadline to capture Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram leader, dead or alive.
This is after the army had told Nigerians several times that Shekau had been killed. However, Buratai’s deadline, issued on July 22, is yet to be met more than five months after.
On the contrary, the insurgency appears to have been rejuvenated. Many officers and soldiers of the Operation Lafiya Dole, as well as members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and local hunters, have been killed in recent waves of attacks and suicide bombings by the insurgents.
Innocent civilian lives have been lost in their hundreds, too, while the ‘luckier’ ones end up in captivity where videos are made of them by the terrorists for the arm-twisting of the Nigerian government to do their bidding.
Meanwhile, Buratai, together with his fellow service chiefs, was recently ‘rewarded’ with another extension to his original two-year tenure that expired in July 2017.
ROTTEN YAMS FOR EXPORT
With pomp and pageantry, Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture, flagged off what he said was Nigeria’s first yam export to the United States of America; that was on June 29.
But barely three months after, another committee was being told by the same minister to investigate why the yams arrived America rotten.
“Exporters are private sector people. We will investigate both the company that exported and ask the quarantine department to check and find out why such a consignment left here,” said Ogbeh after FEC meeting of October 4.
Two months on, nothing has happened.
‘CORRUPT’ MAIMUNA ALIYU CHOSEN FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced that Ekpo Nta, former ICPC Chairman, had been eased out of office, and in his place, Bolaji Owasanoye, was appointed to lead a new board.
But on that list of newly appointed ICPC board members were Maimuna Aliyu and Saadu Alanamu, two individuals who were being investigated by the same commission over corruption allegations.
How the presidency failed to run basic background checks on individuals it nominates to key positions still beat the imagination of many Nigerians.
THE BELATED BABACHIR LAWAL SACK
Another incident that damaged FG’s anti-corruption war is the case of Babachir Lawal, who was sacked as Secretary to the Government of the Federation after he was found culpable in the misappropriation of funds meant for victims of insurgency in the North East.
Lawal was said to have awarded multi-million naira contracts to his own companies for ‘clearing of grasses’ in selected Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.
Lawal was eventually sacked, but that happened approximately 11 months after his indictment by the legislature. Till date, he is yet to be invited for questioning by the appropriate authorities or charged to court for misconduct.
THE RETURN OF ABDULRASHEED MAINA
But the issue that all but hammered the final nail into the coffin of the anti-corruption campaign is the backdoor reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina.
Maina, former Chairman of the Pension Reforms Task Team, who has been on the run since he was declared wanted for allegedly stealing pension funds, reappeared in October and was clandestinely reinstated into the civil service.
Maina was later removed again on Buhari’s orders, but the circumstances that led to his recall, especially the roles played by top ministers in the Buhari cabinet, left many with no doubt that the fight against corruption needed to begin from within Buhari’s kitchen.
SENATE VERSUS MAGU
Two times Buhari nominated Ibrahim Magu as substantive Chairman of the EFCC, a commission under the supervision of the Presidency; two times Magu’s nomination was criticised by the Department of State Services (DSS), another agency under the Presidency; two times Magu’s nomination was rejected by the Senate.
Though it’s no fault of Buhari’s that the Senate would not confirm his preferred candidate for a particular position, it’s definitely a blight on his administration that the situation has festered.
Despite having two special assistants on legislative matters, the President failed to convince the lawmakers on his reasons for insisting it is Magu or no one else. He has also refused to look into the concerns consistently raised by the DSS, at least to see if there are any merits therein. The President rather chose to leave Magu in acting capacity, but for how long?
INVASION OF THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE BY RATS
After 103 days abroad on medical vacation in the UK, Buhari returned to the country in August amid fears that he hadn’t completely recovered. The fears were then given credence when he wasn’t seen at his office the following day, prompting Garba Shehu, his spokesman, to bizarrely claim that this was due to infestation of the President’s office by rodents.
“Following the three months period of disuse, rodents have caused a lot of damage to the furniture and the air conditioning units,” he said.
“Some renovations are ongoing at the office, his fully equipped office in his residence. He will be back to the main office after the works.”
Garba added that Buhari could work from anywhere, saying: “What is important is that the job gets done. Whether he does it from his bedroom, or his sitting room, or his ante room, it does not matter. Let the job be done. And the job will be done.”
With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that the job was never done. For instance, on his first official day at work from his bedroom, Buhari received the report of the probe panel on Babachirl Lawal. It took him two whole months to implement its recommendations!
‘DEAD MEN WORKING’
Just when we thought the administration had committed enough blunders to last an entire tenure, the issue of nomination of dead people into boards of various government agencies came up.
The appointments, announced by Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, contains the names of 1,467 “eminently qualified Nigerians”, eight of whom, sadly, are dead.
And if the announcement itself is not embarrassing enough, the explanation given by Garba Shehu, Buhari’s chief spokesman, is hilarious.
“This list is a historical list. It dates back to 2015,” Shehu said, before narrating the how Buhari’s numerous medical trips abroad had slowed down the process.
“The current SGF was only directed to complete that process by releasing the list, which he apparently did without altering it.
“There is nothing scandalous or extraordinary about what has happened. No human undertaking can be free of mistakes.”
As 2017 draws to an end, Nigerians will be hoping that come 2018, the Federal Government will have put its acts together so that it can, in the end, deliver on the change it promised in 2015.