The Afrobeat Maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was synonymous with the fight against the hydra-headed monster of corruption using the instrumentality of music. Asserting himself with pristine authority on the stage, he railed against the ills of the society in a manner that his message has now become evergreen and earned him the status of a modern day, African Nostradamus.
In one of his hit songs directed against the then Olusegun Obasanjo led military administration, he blasted the then Petroleum Minister, Colonel Muhammadu Buhari as he then was for the disappearance of 2.8 billion naira of the nation’s oil revenue.
Let’s recall that at the time the naira was at par with the British pound and had much more value than the American dollar so that sum was rather humongous. He also drew attention to the futility of probe panels whose sittings at tax payers’ expense never resolved the puzzles. The whereabout of the 2.8 billion naira remained unresolved till date in the manner reminiscent of VIP murders in the country.
Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum raised an alarm at his sidelining in the affairs of the state owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru. He went on to allege that the latter awarded a whopping $26 billion juicy contract without following due process. Kachikwu, the hitherto egg head groomed by Harvard University has been rendered so in effete that he has been allegedly denied access to Buhari since his return from his medical vacation in England. He also went on to say that many important appointments were made without consultation of the board. He heard about them like every other Nigerian. The GMD hardly attends board meetings and he has entrenched a culture of fear in the parastatal that lays the golden egg.
So many issues arise from this Kachikwu scream.
Baru is accountable to Buhari who doubles as Petroleum Minister and the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari who is also a member of the NNPC board. Could he have awarded such a huge contract unilaterally? Is he the sole signatory to NNPC contracts?
Could it be possible that Buhari is in the know? Could Kachikwu be held in contempt as he comes from a less favoured tribe? Let’s look at the way and manner he was removed as the helmsman of the NNPC last year to pave way for the surreptitious northern agenda. Is he just being tolerated for the sake of the now much discredited federal character?
Why is there a conspiratorial silence from the Presidency on this matter since Baru is an appointee of the President? The administration came to power on the wavecrest of the change slogan which promised to be a departure from the old order of corruption and impunity, why hasn’t Baru been asked to publicly state his side of the story in a government that claims to have zero tolerance for corruption?
Why is there a sense of dejavu that Buhari is the petroleum minister now that $26 billion has been allegedly mismanaged? Fela’s gift for prophecy seems to be sealed here. It is also coincidental that this year marks the twentieth anniversary of his departure from mother earth.
The fight against corruption has become a gargantuan joke as no single successful prosecution has been recorded so far. The Babichir Lawal and Ayodele Oke’s alleged corruption saga still remain puzzles with no prosecutions or the cases even being conclusive yet. The wave of the public opinion is fast swinging against the idea that Buhari is incorruptible with disillusion fast setting in. Some of his critics even went as far as vehemently criticizing his time as Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund and one wonders why his handling of the petroleum sector always tends to raise a lot of dust.
It is commendable that the Senate has risen up to the occasion by inaugurating a committee to probe the allegations raised by Kachikwu headed by former Sokoto State Governor, Senator Aliyu Wamakko. While the act is cheering news, we hope that the recommendations see the light of day as many probe committees just make a lot of noise with no results at the end of the day.
We remember with the power probe committee headed by Hon Ndudi Elumelu which revealed the mind boggling corruption in that sector but at the end of the day, the hunter became the hunted as the former reps member and some committee members were equally accused of corruption with their cases inconclusive.
Buhari must rise up with precision and deal ruthlessly with these heart wrenching corruption allegations and Baru shouldn’t be spared if found culpable.
In line with the whistle blower policy, we watch with bated breath if Kachikwu would indeed be a recipient.