Otherwise, it would have been preferable to simply stay out of discussing this matter but for the mere fact that this country does not belong to any particular set of people but to all of us and on an equal stand. The harrowing disclosures emerging from the alleged misappropriation of $2.193 billion meant for the procurement of arms to combat Boko Haram insurgency by the Office of the National Security Adviser goes only to show how unfortunate this country has been in the hands of those who say they are our leaders.
Nigerians are getting to know how Sambo Dasuki, the immediate past National Security Adviser to the President, allegedly turned national security funds meant to fight Boko Haram insurgents to fund all sorts of illicit activities including the welfare of former presidents and heads of state and some top politicians. How long can we continue to tolerate this gross abuse of trust, insensitivity, greed and outright lack of conscience by our public officials?
It would be recalled the $1 billion loan for purchase of arms and equipment was expeditiously approved by the National Assembly at the height of loss of our highly-trained military men in the fight against Boko Haram in the North -Eastern part of the country and the consequent protests by soldiers hundreds of whom deserted the front lines for lack of weapons and equipment to effectively execute the counter-insurgency campaign.
And curiously as details of the huge funds disbursed by the Office of the National Security Adviser continue to surface, it has been revealed that top serving and retired Nigerian leaders benefited immensely from the money as shared by the former NSA.
Media report quoting an aide of the embattled former NSA, read: “it had become necessary for Dasuki to expose the first in the series of the top beneficiaries, which include former heads of state and presidents, who were bought bullet-proof Sports Utility
Vehicles by the ONSA with funds approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“What is coming will shock Nigerians and many of them will get to know if indeed Dasuki used the money to enrich himself as being bandied in many quarters. As a law-abiding NSA, he had to carry out the instructions handed over to him by the Presidency and nothing more,” the aide said.
“It is also instructive to note that those who are now blaming Dasuki for carrying out his assigned duties and calling for his head actually benefitted immensely from the security vote, which was domiciled in his office. The truth of the matter is that all over the world security votes are used for various reasons to bring about national peace and stability and Dasuki could not have done otherwise.”
Amongst names of some prominent politicians, businessmen and even media houses already revealed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by Dasuki, the surprise propping of the name of President Mohammadu Buhari and past presidents and heads of state as beneficiaries in the sharing of the sleaze funds has been generating vexed commentaries, some defensive and most belligerent.
Though, in a swift response to the allegation of the president’s involvement in the NSA bazaar, the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Femi Adesina in a statement in Abuja tried to clarify issues around the president’s alleged benefits, but whether the public agreed with him is an entirely different thing.
The statement: “Our attention has been drawn to reports making the rounds, especially on internet-based media, that President Muhammadu Buhari received $300,000.00 and up to five armoured SUVs from the Office of the National Security Adviser in the aftermath of the attack on his convoy in Kaduna last year.
“We unequivocally deny that President Buhari received $300,000.00 or any monetary compensation whatsoever from the Jonathan Presidency or any of its officials, in the aftermath of that attack, or at any other time since then.
“While it is true that one armoured SUV and one untreated SUV were sent to the President in the aftermath of the attack, the vehicles were in keeping with his entitlements as a former Head of State under the Remuneration of Former Presidents and Heads of State (And other Ancillary Matters) Decree of 1999.
“Section 3, Sub Section 1 of that Decree provides that three vehicles will be provided for former heads of state and replaced every four years.”
It is very doubtful whether Nigerians actually bought Mr Adesina’s explanation hook, line, and sinker as several issues have been raised on the alleged “sympathy dash” or rather “servicing” of the president by the embattled former NSA.
First, the issue here is the diversion of money meant for the prosecution of the war against Boko Haram by Dasuki for a purpose not approved by law. Dasuki used the unapproved money for purposes other than what they were intended.
A recipient of that money (in the form of two expensive SUVs- one armoured –plated and one normal and $300, 000 though denied) was President Buhari who now is at the forefront of prosecuting Dasuki and other people that received payments from the sleaze fund.
Common sense would have told us that whether compensation was monetary or in the form of gifts is immaterial. The issue is if the SUVs were derived from the unlawful diversion of government money in breach of the law then those that received them are as guilty as any other person that received money or gifts from the same Dasuki under probe for misappropriation and/or outright stealing.
Secondly, The Act of the National Assembly that takes care of the welfare of ex- presidents and their vice clearly excludes all past military heads of state, based on the thinking that their interventions were crimes against democracy, it is unclear whether that has been repealed.
More so, the welfare of ex -presidents is handled by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation not the Office of the National Security Adviser. So taking luxury bullet proof jeep as a gift from Dasuki and then turning around to accuse him of misappropriation and/or outright stealing definitely would be seen by many as deceit or rather double standard.
Do we agree that the ex- presidents and former heads of state are in fact accomplices and equally guilty in crime of sharing the money appropriated for something else? If we do, the question then would be: How possible is it to prosecute everybody involved in the sharing of this sleaze fund including former presidents and heads of state? The answer is an obvious naaaay! And so how can we properly prosecute the former NSA when the accomplices to the same crime are left off the hook? You see, the ordinary Nigerian is the end loser!
Does it not surprise Nigerians that since the former NSA was first arrested by the DSS and later handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the charges against him has been reworked four or more times? First it was illegal possession and stockpiling of arms, then to treason; money laundering; and now to misappropriation and stealing of public funds. It shows that these people don’t even know what they are doing, walahi!
Two things glaringly emerged from the government’s displayed confusion in tagging Dasuki’s actual crime/offence: making the offence looks grievous and dragging as many culprits as possible into the net but as Dasuki has decided to release the comprehensive manifest of all beneficiaries, we wait to see how this unfolding drama of conspiracy against the ordinary Nigerian people is going to turn out. God bless Nigeria!
IFEANYI IZEZE lives in Abuja: [email protected]; 234-8033043009