By Inioribo Tamunotonye
Nigerians may recall that one of the biggest criticism that trailed the government of President Goodluck Jonathan administration was his lukewarmness to take action in his then Chairman of Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina despite several recommendations by the 7th Senate. Though he would later fire Maina when it got too hot, many, including the opposition felt a lot of damage had already been done. It is however shocking and evil to see the reappearance of Maina under the Muhammadu Buhari government.
THE MAN MAINA AND WHAT HE REPRESENTS
Maina, an Assistant Director in charge of Customs,Immigration and Prisons Pension in the Federal ministry of Interior within the human resources department, was appointed the Chairman on Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms by Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. The key mandate of the task force was to sanitise public pension sector that has been enmeshed in acute corruption, his position was like a sort of cop.
To his credit, Maina’s Team blew the whistle that led to the investigation, prosecution and “conviction” of Mr. John Yakubu Yusufu, then serving Assistant Director who stole over N2 billion belonging to Police pensioners. He pleaded guilty and was tried alongside accomplices that include; then Permanent Secretary, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, the Director, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Cashier Veronica Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira the ICT Officer.
N/B: Despite pleading guilty to the stealing of N2billion belonging to retired policemen, Mr Yusufu was told by the trial judge, Justice Abubakar Talba of Abuja High Court to forfeit properties that weren’t worth 200 million Naira and pay N250,000 fine to avoid going to jail. He paid right there in court.
Maina was however accused of “re-stealing” N2 billion belonging to pensioners by pensioners through petitions to both the Senate and House of Representative. He was invited by the Senate joint committee on public service and establishment led by Aloysius Etok to defend himself but refused to honor any invitation, the Senate subsequently issued an arrest warrant on him. Maina absconded the country after the police management withdrew his security details and placed him on Wanted List. He was equally fired from the Civil service for absconding from duty and his failure to respond to summons.
It is unfortunate that such a man could be returned to the service through the backdoor by an administration that came to power through its anti corruption rhetoric.
WHO IS LIABLE FOR MAINA’S RETURN
In my candid opinion, the following people are primarily liable for the return of Maina.
- Gen (Dr) Abdulrahman Dambazzau: The Interior minister, who is also in charge of supervision of Nigeria Police that had declared Maina a fugitive cannot turnaround to claim innocence. The fugitive was posted to his ministry as a director of Human Relations (if his claim is correct). Part of citizens responsibility (as demanded by the law) is to arrest fugitives and hand them over to security agencies or give valuable information that will lead to arrest of fugitive. Maina, being a fugitive was supposed to have been arrested by citizen Dambazzau and handover to the Police or EFCC that declared him Wanted. As public servant, Dambazzau is under a oath to uphold, protect and defend the laws of land, which he failed to in this case.
- Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita (Head of Service, HOSF): She is in charge of posting, reposting and discipline of civil servants. I am very sure she is aware of Maina return and approved his payment of benefits. As HOSF, she was expected to understand the implication of the return of Maina as an infringement on civil service rules.
- The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior: Being the Chief Accounting Officer of the Ministry, the “Perm Sec” cannot claim ignorance of this backdoor appointment.
- President Muhammadu Buhari: The bucks stops at his table! He can’t claim ignorance of Maina return because such senior level appointment/reappointment cannot take effect without his authorised approval/signature upon the recommendations of HOSF and Federal Civil Service Commission. His recent claim of ignorance is simply face-saving to get someone take the fall.
APPROPRIATE ACTION TO TAKE
What is appropriate now is for the President to fire/suspend everyone with link (or possible link) to the reappointment of Maina and judiciously institute a probe to unravel all the real perpetrators of this wicked act. They have betrayed the trusts of Nigeria people especially pensioners, whose monies were squandered by Maina and likes after putting decades into the service of the country.
As for Buhari, I’m sure Nigerians should be tired of him already. The scandal he has been linked with in less than 3 years in government is more than the entire scandal in the 5+ years of the past administration. He has no moral justification remaining in office beyond the May 29, 2019 mandate given him by the Nigeria electorate on March 28, 2015 and which came to effect on May 29, 2015.
Sacking Maina is not enough, Baba Must Go!