By David Adodo
Malam Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina, former Chairman of the Defunct Pension Reform Task Team, has been vilified in the media—in the past few weeks, apparently as a result of falsehood being dished out via the media to members of the public by his enemies: those Maina has exposed for pension scam; those who think they could change the narrative of Maina’s crusade against pension fraud.
But, no matter how they try, they will fail because the Maina we know, a prince from Biu Emirate in Borno State from a Royal Family–renowned for its humility, integrity and bravery, is not corrupt. There are records to show for his faithfulness to his country and diligent services to his country.
An American National Honoree, and amongst the United State Black Achievers Awardees in 2001, Maina’s personal integrity and leadership asset have since been celebrated by the United States. He has worked in various ministries: such as Borno State Civil Service, the Presidency (Special Duties), Ministry of Interior, Office of the Head of Service and the Customs, Immigration, and Prisons Pension Office.
Appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010 as the Chairman of the Task Team, which comprised of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Crimes (ICPC), Department of Security Services (DSS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Nigeria Police Force and other paramilitary agencies to sanitise and restructure the Pay-As-You-Go pension system, Maina’s appointment was purely on merit.
For years, he was the best in transparency and accountability–as the Acting Director of the Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pension Office (CIPPO), going by the rating of the Presidential Technical Committee headed by Director General of National Pension Commission.
The Team, under the leadership of Maina, meritoriously executed its assignments to the best interest of this country. He sanitised and restructured the pension system through the payment of many years’ pension arrears—as attested to by many Nigerians who benefited from his reform: he introduced smart cards, traced and recovered stolen pension funds/properties worth over N1.63 trillion. He cracked down on the notorious pension cartel with over 70,000 membership.
Consequently, corruption is fighting back dirty: there have been several assassination attempts on Malam Maina and he is being persecuted through spurious allegations against him and his Team, especially by the Etuk/Gaya Senate Pension Probe Committee.
There was a time members of a Senate Committee were alleged to have demanded a N2 billion bribe from Maina Pension Team; and when it could not play ball, his problem began. Some agents of pension thieves had sent a petition against him to EFCC and ICPC on September 30, 2013; they were the same people who collected bribes running into billions of Naira, farm equipment, caterpillar, estates, large plots of land in choice places in Abuja, cars etc from the pension thieves standing trial.
It was for the same reason that the Maina-led Pension Team sued the Senate at the Abuja High Court, where he got a groundbreaking judgement in his favour. The proceedings and findings of the said Etuk-led Pension Probe Committee was declared null and void by the Federal High Court, Abuja—going by the ruling on March 13, 2013—as having not met the constitutional requirements of Section 88 (1) of 1999 Constitution as amended. The Court also gave Maina perpetual injunction against arrest as a result of the pension issue. At last, Maina was vindicated but these enemies of Nigeria have refused to allow Nigeria to continue to tap from the experience and ingenuity of this exceptional civil servant. But, one thing is sure: Nigerians will continue to celebrate this hero of the pensioners.
At last, Maina has been vindicated; but enemies of Nigeria have refused to allow the Nigerian State to continue to tap from the experience and ingenuity of this exceptional civil servant. Nigerians will continue to celebrate this hero of the pensioners, and future administrations would certainly not allow such a talent to be left untapped. In 2015, Maina was approached by the Buhari administration, when during the President’s visit to Dubai, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation and the National Security Adviser were mandated by the Presidency to sit with Maina and discuss how he could help the government in the recovery of funds badly needed to move the country forward.
Maina accepted to help his country, and gave out intelligence that led to the recovery of N1.3 trillion to the Buhari-led government in 2017. He also promised to recover additional N3 trillion in nine months but the enemies of Nigerians who surround the President, who are in vantage positions, will not allow him to do that. The only official of government that has shown Nigerians that he has really keyed into Buhari’s agenda of fighting corruption is the Minister of Justice.
The former Chairman of PRTT, who is out of circulation, has explained that he went into hiding to save his life from pension thieves who have concluded plans to eliminate him using government apparatus. They dared him for asking the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to stop multi-billion naira monthly allocations to Head of Service Office, the Police Pension office and other outfits. These funds were hitherto being shared by several high level government officials under the guise of paying pensioners.
Maina, has told the world that he is ever ready to come out and spill the beans (with documentary evidences), on the continued theft of public funds by some government agencies charged with the responsibility of fighting corruption–if President Muhammadu Buhari would provide him adequate security cover.
Maina is sincere and stainless, no wonder he challenged anyone to show where government funds were given to him or the Task Team – whether the Budget Office, Ministry of Finance or Head of Service have ever given him or the Task Team money. He has asked these questions severally but no one has said a word since he first asked the questions in 2013.
It is so sad that Nigeria as a nation that claims to be fighting corruption has continuously allowed a patriotic Nigerian like Maina to be persecuted by corruption itself by looking the other way. It keeps Nigerians wondering about the sincerity of this so called corruption fight by government. Corruption in Nigeria has its tentacles spread across most Government MDA’s.
Chief Adodo, a retired civil servant, writes from Lagos