Governance Is Not Based On Personal Relationships By Owei Lakemfa - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Monday, April 27, 2020

Governance Is Not Based On Personal Relationships By Owei Lakemfa


In the last ten days, our country  has been forced on its kneels by  horrendous massacres such as the over 100 killed by bandits in Katsina, Sokoto and  Plateau States and the steep rise in Covid-19 victims  including the infection of dozens  of health workers.

Tragically, these have not been the focus  in  the country. Rather, the media has been clogged by heaps of eulogy on Malam Abba Kyari, the  Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, who died of COVID-19 on April 17. This has also given rise to sterile debates on whether he was  a good man or if those who disagree with the  uncritical  offloading  of these panegyrics have  a right to air their views.

This diversion just won’t go away as government bent the rules in his case on how Covid-19 victims should be buried, and we are buffeted by international condolence messages about  an  unelected man who had  no constitutional  roles.

These are  indeed, strange times when clearly   intelligent persons choose to reduce governance to their personal relationship with the diseased.

Hitler was a warm  lover who was also loved by millions of people.  He even had  deep love for his dogs; Blondi, Muckl and the two Blonda. But that did not stop him evolving and implementing  a programme that sent millions of Jews to the gas chamber.   President François Duvalier of Haiti was so loved by the populace that they affectionately called him Papa Doc. But this  cannot be used to explain his tyranny and maintenance of   a killer  militia, the Tonton Macoute.

General Sani Abacha,   like Kyari had friends. He also had  a wife, but that did not stop him maintaining  a killer squad which terrorized Nigerians and murdered perceived opponents like Mrs. Kudirat Abiola. Abacha so ingratiated himself on President Buhari that even while redistributing the “Abacha loot”  Buhari insists that the  kleptocrat never stole!

General Ibrahim Babangida has a charming personality and many friends across the country but he will be assessed as a bloody dictator who annulled one of the best elections ever conducted in the country.

The issue is not about Kyari having    a string of academic qualifications, but how did he deploy his education? Some of the most notorious Ministers and government officials who rationalized military dictatorship and killings in our country, had Ph.Ds. That  Kyari went  to Cambridge does not show brilliance. In his  generation, over 95 percent of Nigerians who went broad to study, were those who could not readily get admission into local universities.

In any case, high educational qualifications is no criteria for leadership in the country, if it were, the required qualification to run for the Presidency will not be school certificate, and President Mohammadu Buhari would have been no match for President Goodluck Jonathan who has  doctorate.

Kyari was  praised for allegedly being ready to take a bullet for President Buhari. But was Buhari elected to appoint people who can take bullets for him?  Should  a patriot be loyal to an individual or to the country? If indeed Kyari was loyal to the President, it did not mean he was  a patriot  because  a patriot is a person who loves his country not an individual.

  Kyari’s clear usurpation of power in the Presidency was undemocratic and injurious to our collective interests. Our constitution in Chapter 48 provides that the Government of the Federation shall be run by the President, Vice President and Ministers who are collectively charged with: “…determining the general direction of domestic and foreign policies of the Government of the Federation.”  So when President Buhari directed all   Ministers to report to Kyari, a  loyal and patriotic citizen  should have guided the President aright rather than benefit from such perfidy. Also, the Buhari government is manifestly sectional  and perpetually in breach of the Federal Character provision of the constitution; why did a claimed patriot endorse this infamy? In these, Kyari was simply  a serial violator of the Nigerian constitution who exercised power without responsibility.

There were claims that Kyari was a gatekeeper who stopped people from going directly to President Buhari to sign memos and contracts. Is that governance? I thought this government claimed that contracts are open and competitive; that they go through  “due process” including by the Bureau of Public Procurement before being awarded  by the Federal Executive Council? If this were true, why would there be a gateman vetting contracts to be signed? In any case, who was the gateman on memos and contracts Kyari had interests?

If Kyari were as intelligent and honest as  some want us to believe, he should have directly or indirectly refuted specific and direct allegations made against him. There was the case of the fugitive, Abdulraseed  Maina accused of stealing billions of Naira from pension funds. The Buhari government secretly  brought Maina back into the country, provided him security, reinstated him into the Civil Service, paid the backlog of  his salaries and even rewarded him with promotion. A decent government should have resigned, however, that is not the focus here.  When the scandal broke, the then Head of Service Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita in the Executive Chamber  of the Presidential Villa publicly and in the presence of the press, accused Kyari of being the mastermind and overruling her when protested against the reinstatement of the fugitive. Until his demise, Kyari did not refute these weighty allegations.

 On  a popular radio station in Abuja, a police officer who was investigating  a fraud case in which Kyari was mentioned as a major  culprit, alleged that the later misused the State Security Services to illegally detain him. Despite several invitations by the radio station,  Kyari neither  refuted  the documented allegations against him, nor sued.

The National Security Adviser,  retired General Babagana Monguno in documented memos made allegations in 2019 against Kyari bordering on acts  subversive of   the country’s national security and superimposing his directives on that of the President. Kyari had no known response.

Kyari might well have been  a good man but that is not  a criterion for running government, otherwise we would have elected only the clergy into office not   politicians who in most cases, are shifty.

Death   is a price we pay for living, so to argue that we should speak no ill of the dead because we shall all die, is a rather childish  rant. In Africa, stories of wicked souls like Bashorun Gaa, are used in didactic narrations. Three thousand years after his death, Christians annually,   not only speak ill of Mr. Judas Iscariot, but also trash   his effigy on the streets.

If Abba Kyari  were crawling to heaven,  by now, he would have gotten to  Heaven’s Gate; therefore let him rest in peace, and also, let  Nigerians  have some peace.

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