He is Babachir Lawal, the sacked Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF). He was accused of allegedly awarding one of his companies a N223 million grass-cutting contract. The contract was under the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PIN) For that, he was booted out of government.
But he is in the news again, just as it was before, for the wrong reason. He is painting the town red, beating his fleshy chest and literally occupying every space. He is arrogantly showcasing his prowess.
He is bragging all over, calling our bluff. He tells us to go to blazes if we can. He is displaying raw power and brute connection. He does not care whether we are bruised or not. He cares less about our feelings.
Babachir is giving the dangerous impression that his being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), means nothing to him. But it means a lot, in fact, everything to us. His outburst is embarrassingly out of place. He is pompous and uncouth.
Of course, we cannot forget easily. We vividly remember how long it took the Presidency before it agreed to set up a panel to “probe” him. It was long after the Shehu Sani Senate Committee hugely indicted him.
He was reluctantly “suspended.” The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Panel was constituted to “further investigate” him. The Osinbajo committee had Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (retd), as members.
The panel agreed with the Senate committee in its findings. Yet, the report was unwisely kept in the cooler. It was nearly swept under the carpet until good reason was made to prevail.
Even at that, the Presidency was hesitant in “sacking” him. That is the reason Babachir would not stop boasting and gloating at the same time. The haughtiness and pomposity in him would not abate.
A topmost ex-government official under investigation could not comport himself and control his tongue. He preferred talking recklessly all over. Such an individual would bury himself in shame in a saner and cleaner clime. But it would not happen in Nigeria; an island to itself.
By dazzling us with his dexterity and deftness, he is telling us how strongly connected he is to the power(s) that be.
This has inflicted grave damage on the anti-graft war. It made further mess of the whole exercise as a monumental charade. It is re-confirming the corruption fight as being selective, partial and partisan. It is becoming more unserious by the second.
It is heavily one-sided. Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Interior, Adams Jagaba, wholly shared this view. Listen to his argument: “The fight against corruption is no longer serious. What they are doing is just window-dressing because of 2019 elections. There are people more corrupt than … in this government, but there is nothing being done about their case(s). If you want to fight corruption, be total.”
Senate Chief Whip, Sola Adeyeye, could not agree less. His posers: “Was the Senate the only panel that indicted Lawal? Did the Vice President’s panel not interrogate him? What was the recommendation of the Vice President’s panel?
“So, if two panels that are independent of each other investigated a person and recommended his sacking, why then are you asking if the investigation by the Senate was fair? He was invited by the Senate, but did he come? Corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of this nation and everybody who is caught makes his/her excuses.”
Babachir was heedless and mindless in his utterances. He is obviously behaving this way because he belongs to the same party as the President. They meet and discuss regularly. Of course, he confirmed this much: “I see the President, I have access to him. If there is anything to discuss, we do so. He is a politician, we are politicians. I joined politics to make Buhari the President and this will not be an issue between us.”
He fervently believed he did not bring any shame on the Presidency: “No, because I believe it is a lie, so why should I feel I let him down?”
That is the warped thinking of a typical Nigerian politician. They would never believe they could be at fault. He is just behaving true to type. A leopard does not change its spots, particularly the black ones. Those are our leaders, leading us to nowhere in particular.
But this ex-SGF must not be allowed to bamboozle us unchallenged. He must account for his actions and inactions. He must not rope us in. We can identify their ilk when we see one.
We are now aware of his deep-seated hatred for the Vice President. We can understand his grudges. He felt flatly betrayed by Osinbajo in his dying minutes in office. He could not secure his trust when he needed it most. He is angry the Vice President did not hint him of his sacking before going public.
This was how he annoyingly displayed it: “The Vice President ought to have told me (about the sack). I expected him to have told me.”
But this man should stop playing on our innocence and intelligence. As Musa Rafsanjani, head, Transparency International, Nigeria, aptly put it: “Babachir must stop grandstanding and allow the law to take the due process.”
That is all we demand, not insults!