Buhari, Babachir, Magu and the Senate

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-nomination of Ibrahim Magu for Senate confirmation as chairman Economic and Financial Crime Commission(EFCC) and his letter asking the Senate to reconsider its stance on Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. David Babachir Lawal is a good opportunity for the Senate and the executive arms to turn a new leaf in their relationship. Equally, it has presented to Bukola Saraki President of the Senate a unique opportunity to further cement his relationship with the President. Furthermore, it is also an opportunity for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and new senate leader Ahmed Lawan to initiate a new bi-partisan approach for smooth approval of any request by the executive.

For Ibrahim Magu, it is another important chance for him to clear his name and sell himself to the senate; informing them and the nation of his plan to take the EFCC to a new level as an institution responsible for fighting the war against corruption. Many Nigerians are in support of Magu because in him, they see the zeal to employ international multilateral technical co-operation on corruption to develop a mechanism that will help Nigeria have a system that discourages outright stealing of public funds, and develop an anti-corruption war that relies on forensic evidence, well-trained personnel and free of unnecessary controversies.

The Senate needs to accept President Buhari’s request on Magu in good faith, while encouraging him to drive the anti-corruption war in a new approach that is multifaceted, multidisciplinary and knowledge-driven; an approach that would assist all institutions of government in re-establishing norms and standards of governance, assist the public, NGOs and even the legislature in monitoring of compliance with the standards. The core of the ‘new’ EFCC should be centered on restoring social order especially to governance; and promoting advocacy and capacity building among genuine whistleblowers.

For Babachir, the senate should as a matter of new legislature-executive relationship, reconsider its December 15, 2016 recommendation that the SGF should resign and be prosecuted by relevant authority. This is for Buhari, not for Babachir. Buhari is a man that keeps his confidence and trust in people until such a person exhausts all avenues of trust. But Buhari is sometimes unlucky, some of the people he trust, betray the trust and the friendship he bestows on them.

However, Babachir should amend his way of relating with other arms of government and his style of politics- it is pathetic that Babachir failed to get any meaningful public sympathy nor concrete defense from the political class, even his primary constituency- the north, northeast and Adamawa state, let alone other parts of the country. This is a big lesson for Babachir. You cannot be the Secretary to the Government of the Federation of Nigeria and behave like the secretary of a hamlet’s cultural association.

The whole scenario is a challenge to the ruling APC – the party must work hard to enjoy the fruits of it being majority in the senate. It is also a test for Senate President Bukola Saraki’s capacity to harness senate-executive rapport in a critical situation. For the new senate leader Ahmed Lawan, it will be his first litmus test in his ability to consolidate on bi-partisan approach to important national issues. For Magu, it is an opportunity to further win the hearts of more Nigerians and convince the Senate of his capacity to lead the EFCC in line with senate’s expectation of anti-graft war. While for Babachir, it will be of great help to him for the senate to overlook one of his 2016 lows. For President Buhari, this is a proof that the Senate still sees him in high esteem.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.

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