Monguno’s BBC interview: A friendly fire

Fighting against the established presence of corruption, pervading atmosphere of insecurity and the drooping economy was the tripod stand upon which the APC administration promised to sit. At that time, popular disillusionment has amassed around these issues as a consequence becoming sources of overwhelming repudiation of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Many attributed asceticism, integrity, among other things, as the magnet for President Muhammadu Buhari’s huge support base and also reason for his reputation as the only squeaky-clean politician in the muddy political water capable of changing the tide of corruption. His past was effectively romanticised amidst not too flattering performances as a military head of state.

To his credit, mind blowing corruption under his predecessor was laid bare particularly with the former National Security Adviser Ibrahim Dasuki and Petroleum Minister Diezani Allison becoming a corruption ‘emblem’, among other no less high-profile cases and prosecution. Just as the revelation and prosecution were made, corruption deftly crept into the administration with the indictment of the former Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF) Babachir Lawal and the government did betray worrying hesitance in launching investigation on its own before it finally capitulated to public pressure, other cases were to follow.

The public domain is rife with discourse on the overwhelming presence of corruption in the administration and the country with our position in the Transparency International (TI) corruption index 2020 providing sufficient credence which have seen officials strenuously attacking the report.

The recent National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno’s interview with the BBC effectively let the genie out of the bottle; that has further besmirched the integrity of the struggling administration. There has not been shortage of adverts to corruption and financial shenanigans as the fuel to the raging fire of insurgency in the land.

Not a few have pointed to this as the extent of the miasma of sleaze at the highest level. Monguno stopped short of calling names. He said, “It seems the money released to former service chiefs by President Buhari to buy weapons to fight terrorism, banditry and kidnapping is missing, because the new service chiefs have confirmed to us that they didn’t see where the new weapons were purchased in their handing over. Apparently, the money is missing and we must investigate it.” Many were worried and showed signs of prescience in anticipating mismanagement just as the one billion dollars was approbated.

The revelation is earth-shaking which has all the trappings of the Dasukigate. The renunciation and further explanation by the government is a thinly veiled attempt at cover up. And the ensuing hurriedly issued statement on the expected delivery of 6 out 12 Tucano jets offers no scintilla of trust and comfort to Nigerians.

It speaks to the dissonance in the government and how the team is working at cross purposes. How can one describe the situation where the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) is oblivious of the equipment that one billion dollars was splurged on under the former service chiefs? An office that is meant to be a clearinghouse of matters of security in the country! It then clearly means that an important appointee of the president has been sentenced to the fringes of the administration.

A leaked memo authored by the same self NSA last year revealed infighting with blame on then Chief of Staff of the President a civilian usurping the role of the ONSA without any disavowal by the presidency is a testament to the absence of unity and amity. Could this be the release of pent up anger and frustration over the relegation of his office? In truth, it will be too asinine for him not to know the full weight of his revelation.

At any rate, the revelation should not be taken with pinch of salt owing to the sensitivity of the matter and the growing insecurity in the country. The claim should trigger a wholesale investigation knowing full well the staggering expenditure that have so far being made in the prosecution of the war against terror. It has clearly emerged that a nexus exists between the insecurity and corruption in the acquisition of the military hardware. It behoves on citizens to demand for accountability knowing full well the weight of the insecurity and the harm’s way the security agents are routinely exposed to.

Even the rabid cheerleaders of the government are in serious perturbation over the legacy of the President. The very sins of his predecessor if not the most virulent are deeply entrenched in his government. This government can’t escape the harsh judgement of Nigerians especially riding on the wave of huge expectation and glowing promises to power.

The administration is in hibernation if not given up for lost. In all fronts it is losing important battles. Not giving the sign of being in charge is the President greatest undoing. A laidback approach toward governance will lead us to an irreversible cul de sac! The administration needs to reflect on the words of Gary Vayner Chuk that “please think about your legacy because you are writing it every day.”

Back to Monguno, I’ll wager that he will not escape comeuppance over the shocking claims. His predecessors were only seen but hardly heard. Already, one of his closest aid is in the dock over allegation of corruption. There’s no telling what will happened in the coming weeks or months.

Ungbo writes via [email protected]

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