15 November 2018

Nigeria: Lai Mohammed and Others Feeding Off El-Zakzaky

opinion

With a pedigree of an incurable self-advertisement behind it, the Muhammadu Buhari government is not known for half-measures.

Alas, this propensity has not found its profoundest expression in the prosecution of an agenda for engendering good governance.

The upshot is that the emergence of the Buhari government has burdened the citizens with a miserable existence that harks back to a Hobbesian state of nature where life is nasty, brutish and short on account of the half-hearted measures for governance that has been deployed.

For the political party of Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC), there is the tragedy that this predilection has also become the petard on which it is being hoisted.

Or why are the party's leaders unrestrained as they fight themselves over who has the power to determine those to take over the reins of leadership in different states? Yet, we cannot ignore the fact that this tendency has redounded to shoring up the political fortunes of the government and the ruling APC.

It was through this attribute that the Buhari government was able to convince Nigerians that it was no longer sensible for them to continue to saddle themselves with the government of Goodluck Jonathan.

Since it assumed office, the Buhari government has maintained this path. Its reality is out of sync with the reality of the citizens.

Where there is mass starvation it says that it has gorged the citizens. Where the land is strewn with broken limbs, legs and corpses, it says it has restored enduring peace.

Where it sows the seeds of discord and ethnic and religious suspicion, it says it is working for the unity of the country by appointing people from only one part of the country and religion into office. It haunts its enemies out of proportion with their offences.

Before the APC government came to power, it was Lai Mohammed who discharged the responsibility of telling the world what only the members of the APC were seeing but remained invisible to others. And since the party assumed office, Mohammed has retained this responsibility as the Minister of Information.

For Mohammed, there is no reason to cringe when he is considered as the face of the dissemblance of the Buhari government.

No, he wears his Goebbelian tag like a badge of honour. He is nimble-footed when it comes to reeling off what portrays the government in a good light.

But Mohammed is currently missing an opportunity to play his accustomed role. Quite out of character, he has suddenly become publicity-shy.

In the fist place, why should Mohammed be interested in keeping the cost of feeding Ibrahim El-Zakzaky as a top secret, far removed from the prying eyes of the citizens? Why was he not excited at the opportunity of telling the whole world how much his government is concerned with the wellbeing of El-Zakzaky by spending so much on him? Thus, that moment of unaccustomed demur signalled the sinister motive of Mohammed. He was not scandalized nor has he fumed that he was misquoted by some inattentive or mischievous reporters.

Mohammed told journalists that he was speaking off the record when he disclosed that the government spends N3.5 million monthly to feed El-Zazaky.

If the motive for disclosing this was to demonstrate how well the government cares for El-Zakzaky, it failed. For, the kind consideration that El-Zakzaky requires is not to be fed with sumptuous meals daily.

After all, he can provide these meals for himself outside the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS). What he needs is to be granted freedom after killing his three sons and hundreds of his followers.

Besides, the insincerity of the government was shown by the Shiites dismissing Mohammed as a liar. They lamented that El-Zakzaky has always complained of not feeding well.

They noted that as recent as last month, their leader complained of poor feeding since he was transferred to Kaduna six months ago. Their case sounds credible.

For, was it not in the DSS custody that El-Zazazky lost one of his eyes? If the government were so caring, why would they allow this to happen to him?

Again, as an old person how much can El-Zakzaky really consume? If the government can feed El-Zakzaky with all that amount, it indicts itself for insisting that the minimum wage for its employees is N18,000.

We must be alert to the possibility that when Mohammed said that such a huge amount is spent monthly on feeding El-Zakzaky, the government was interested in denigrating him as a gourmand.

In that case, he is being portrayed as a person who is preoccupied with eating government delicacies while his followers are out on the streets exposed to the impunity of soldiers who pride themselves on having no rubber bullets.

Mohammed cannot vouch for his claim, so he cannot produce a breakdown of the feeding cost.

Thus, these opaque transactions could only lead the citizens to the suspicion that the cost of feeding El-Zakzaky is high because there are some people who are turning into millionaires through feeding him. No wonder the government likes to keep suspects in prison in violation of court rulings.

Thus, just like El-Zakzaky, officials of the Buhari government are feeding off Sambo Dasuki. In the case of Dasuki, the government must be spending more.

After all, Dasuki needs to be protected so that he would not die of poor feeding and prematurely go to his grave with the secret codes of his multi-billion naira bank accounts.

He is unlike El-Zakzaky who may die in custody and the government and its officials would not lose anything.

The nation would not also lose its peace. Not when the government is poised to pounce on any Shiite who would dare protest against his death. Or when they killed hundreds of them in 2015 and scores of them just last month was there any trouble for the government?

It is the same way that government officials benefit from crises such as insurgencies. Buhari's officials that are feeding off the Boko Haram insurgency do not want it to end.

It is the same way that military officers who are deployed to stop restiveness in the Niger Delta become billionaires after they get there.

Instead of stopping pipeline vandalism and the theft of crude oil, they become the lynchpins for these activities.

On their watch, impounded ships loaded with crude vanish. Or they brazenly vandalise and steal the property of those accused of sponsoring restiveness in the Niger Delta.

It is the same way that government officials live off their yearly budgets. They vote money to buy items they bought the previous year.

How do furniture, kitchen utensils, computers wear themselves out in a year that they warrant being changed?

Since other citizens like the Shiites are outraged at the incredibly huge cost of feeding El-Zakzaky, it is incumbent on the government to disabuse them of the suspicion of its complicity.

But we take cognisance of the robust possibility of the expectation of an unimpeachable investigation remaining an illusion since the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would hide under the excuse that it has not got a petition and thus it cannot probe the outrageous cost of feeding El-Zakzaky.

But the EFCC should be reminded that the unvarnished indignation of the citizens is enough petition to it to probe and tabulate before the public the eating proclivities of El-Zakzaky before he was arrested and now that he is in custody and why Nigerians should not be surprised.

But since the EFCC, DSS, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the police would look away because it is those who are in government who are being accused of corruption, officials of Buhari government would continue to feed fat off citizens they have muzzled through detention and other forms of impunity.

Nigeria

Campaign Spending By Leading Political Parties May Double 2015 Figures

The election campaigns kicked off about a month ago, and the season is full of prospects, especially for the media… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2018 The Guardian. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.