Insider account of how they plot to checkmate anti-graft campaign!
By MARYAM MUSA
On the eve of his departure from Aso Rock last May, the then President Goodluck Jonathan resorted to a hare-brained strategy. In a speech that raised not a few eyebrows, given the occasion and timing, he whined that sooner or later after leaving power on May 29, many of his close aides and cabinet members would face sundry ”persecution” under the watch of the incoming APC-led administration.
Discerning Nigerians and political analysts alike did not take long to decode Jonathan’s strategy: with the banner of his administration thoroughly stained by the whiff of corruption, maladministration and all manner of executive rascality, the outgoing president needed no soothsayer or prophet to know that the hour of accountability was approaching fast, more so as the man succeeding him is none other than the no-nonsense, incorruptible, Muhammadu Buhari.
Jonathan would, however, rather whip up sentiment and attempt to attract public sympathy than face reality. Rather than focus on his and his aides’ readiness to be accountable and come clean on any deals sealed by his administration, he resorted to so-called ”persecution”. In other words, the gentleman who was roundly trounced in the March 28 Presidential Poll was trying to imply far in advance that any attempt to call Jonathan and Co. to account for his lamentable stewardship would equal to persecution .
With the benefit of hindsight, it is now becoming crystal clear that not only was the ex-president crying persecution wolf where there was none: he was laying a foundation for what he would soon become a full-fledged campaign aimed at painting his successor black (so to say) and put him on the defensive. By so doing, DESERT HERALD, gathered, they would thus deflect attention from the monumental economic and financial crimes committed during Jonathan’s six -year presidency.
According to high level sources who spoke to DESERT HERALD in confidence, the long and short of the fledging campaign by the Jonathan camp is what one of the brains behind it called “Operation demonize Genaral Buhari in particular and those around him in general” so as to make Nigerians and the international community believe that rather than concentrating on governance Buhari is obsessed with persecuting Jonathan and his loyalists.
It was reliably gathered that the decision to mount such an operation was mooted in the last few weeks of the Jonathan era. Spearheaded by a female member of the ex-president’s kitchen cabinet who was in charge of a strategic ministry for the better part of his six-year administration, and one of his top aides who until recently was entangled in a high-profile corruption case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the project reportedly involves ”mobilizing” a number of media houses with a view to hit at the soft underbelly of the Buhari administration.
The ”leg soldiers” of this motley gang, according to the information pieced together by this medium, include a former helmsman of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) who hails from the south west, an incumbent PDP governor of one of the south west states; an erstwhile National Security Adviser; three of the oil marketers embroiled in the lingering fuel subsidy scam, and the publishers of three national dailies (two of which are based in Lagos, while the other is based in Abuja) among a couple of others.
Their modus operandi is to sponsor all sorts of cleverly contrived campaigns against the Buhari regime in the traditional media and the social media, an insider who spoke on condition of anonymity, squealed to DESERT HERALD. ”Essentially, most of them would remain in the background pulling the strings, while a few of them would pop out every now and again to add their voices to the media storm, not only to demonize Buhari as supposedly incompetent, visionless, and clueless, but to also tar those around him as self-centered, corrupt and inordinately ambitious”.
He added: ”the essence of their ploy is by thus attacking the government motive and integrity, the APC-led administration will perpetually be on the defensive, particularly any time the government sets out to call either Jonathan or any of his associates and former political appointees to account for their actions and inactions. By so doing they would not only put the government on the defensive but ensure that pressure would be mounted on it from all angles, to back down on the so-called persecution of the ex-president and his ilk”
An insight into how this ambitious operation, for which tens of billions of naira have allegedly being mobilized, was evident during penultimate week’s siege on the Abuja mansion of the immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA) Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd). Barely had officers of the Department of State Security (DSS) drove into Dasuki’s palatial residence than chieftains of the hitherto ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) started stoking fire and brimstone. Not even the fact that the DSS had followed due process by obtaining a legally-issued search warrant, would temper the hysteria of the Jonathan camp.
PDP’s loquacious spokesman, Olisa Metuh and Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose in particular, ranted endlessly, alleging that the Buhari’s administration was ”Witch Hunting” officials of the immediate past administration. Ignoring the weighty allegations swirling against Dasuki (including alleged treason and economic and finanacial crimes) the duo and their ilk verbally attacked Buhari for alleged human rights violation.
Hear the ever-controversial governor Fayose: ”Persecution of PDP stalwarts and others perceived as opposed to the All Progressives Congress (APC) federal government is an ominous sign of imminent return of dictatorship and draconian rule in Nigeria”. Readers may like to take note of the oft-deployed catch-all word, ”persecution”, in Fayose’s speech — a word that is conveniently deployed by every PDP Tom, Dick and Harry at the drop of a hat.
Weighing in with reckless glee, Metuh said he had waltzed to Dasuki’s residence immediately he heard that the security agents were questioning the corrupt ex-NSA. ”I came into Abuja because I read the situation about the invasion of the house of the former NSA and his detention and house arrest”, he said ” so I drove to his house to see him and to find out what is happening… the last time this (type of thing) happened was under the military…”
Metuh and co obviously conveniently forgot that contraty to his assertion that ”the last time this happened was under the military”, only but recently the DSS had been used countless time by then ruling PDP to trample on the rights of innocent Nigerians with abandon. Right there in Abuja, for instance, the residence of incumbent Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, was invaded in commando-style by the same DSS without any search warrant. Last year Metuh and co winked at this assault.
In the same vein, the DSS invaded APC’s ICT centre in the heat of preparations for the last general elections, leaving tears, blood and destruction in their trail. On such occasions Metuh and the then spokesperson of DSS, Miss Merilyn (who has more or less turned herself into PDP’s mouthpiece) gleefully defended that brazen onslaught and attacked all those who questioned the legality of such partisan adventures.
No less interesting was the arrest of the publisher of this newspaper, Malam Tukur Mamu, by the same DSS in October 2009; Mamu’s only ”sin” was that his paper had dared to publish a story which the then first lady, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua, considered offensive. Acting on her instruction, the DSS swooped on the publisher and hauled him into detention in a dehumanizing manner. Needless to say, Metuh and his PDP colleagues never hollered the sort of ”persecution” they now invoke with abandon whenever any member of the old administration is called to account.
As astonishing as it may seem, when the former minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, recently was admonished to explain how billions of naira vamoosed from the excess crude oil account under her watch, she gave four different versions of the same tale in her futile attempt to explain how the fund was depleted in mysterious circumstances. Yet rather than focus on this outlandish indulgence, the Jonathan apologists descended on Buhari, Governor Adams Oshiomhole and anyone who dared to question the ex-finance minister, calling them unprintable names.
Analysts are of the view that given the propensity of the Jonathan boys to attack the messenger rather that the message, coupled with the intimidating war chest they have allegedly mobilized a part of an ”operation demonize Buhari campaign; interesting times lie ahead as more scandalous indulgence of the Jonathan gang are expected to be unearthed in the weeks and months ahead.