By Mohammed Adamu
Nigeria is in the throes of corruption. It is the singular evil that has amplified every other thing that ails the nation. Almost all crimes in the land can be attributed to the impact of corruption on the individual and collective psyche – when apprehended, the modern-day Nigerian bandit, terrorist, armed robber, ritualist and even petty criminals now wear this defiance on their faces as if to remind us, the hapless spectator of them being paraded by law enforcement, that their crimes pale in significance compared to some people that are in the position of leadership.
This resort to extreme measures as a result of the perceived irredeemable corruption of the ruling class has worsened over time as Nigerians began to realise that those in public offices are beginning to make it their family affairs, whereby a public office holder corners the commonwealth to perpetrate his offspring and wards in public offices. It is a dubious way of creating modern monarchies and fiefdoms in a country that prides itself as a republic.
But if we fret over greedy politicians, it perhaps means we have not met the poster couple for the disaster that is unfolding in the land. Corruption has married sleaze and their destination is the Presidential Villa, where the abominable product of this coitus is desirous of one day presiding over the affairs of Nigeria. Their plan is already unfolding.
Sadiya Umar Farouq is the Minister, of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD). For clarity, that ministry superintends seven (7) agencies, viz the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), North East Development Commission, (NEDC), National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced People (NCFRMI), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the recently created, National Commission for People with Disability (NCPWD).
These are agencies with billions of naira allocated to them annually in the national budget. Before Farouq took the helms of affairs as ministers, many of these agencies were pacesetters in that Nigerians in those days could relate to what they do and how they are relevant in the daily lives of citizens, especially when the unpleasant need arose to rely on the interventions offered by these entities. But since the ministry was created and Farouq was drafted to oversee it and by implication, these agencies, they have all tumbled in reckoning and are now shadows of themselves.
The surprise is that these agencies are even now receiving larger allocations than before they came under Farouq’s purview. The huge funds allocated to them now miraculously fall into the black hole that is Farouq’s pockets. Nigerians might have become quiet about it because nothing was done to Farouq despite the outrage they expressed in 2020 when this woman performed the miracle of feeding school children in two states and the Federal Capital Territory with N500 million at a time that schools were closed because of the COVID-19 lockdown. Much as Nigerians were outraged by this brazen theft of scarce national resources, the abracadabra school feeding was pale in significance against accounts of how contracts for buying COVID-19 relief materials were inflated, and awarded to cronies who allegedly made financial returns to the minister, it was also alleged that relief materials were hoarded, re-sold or diverted for political patronage.
Maybe the land would have been able to abide this corrupt evil had the perpetrator not unsurprisingly loved up with a former Chief of Air Staff, retired Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar. Before their marriage and after their marriage, when the husband was still the Air Chief, the duo were well known for depriving the Nigerian Air Force of operational aircraft simply to ferry his then fiancé and later wife. For context, this is not a Divisional Police Officer relinquishing a patrol van to his girlfriend to go shopping, it the then Air Chief depriving troops of fighting capabilities against terrorists while diverting a logistic aircraft to fly Farouq around in style.
Diverting one aircraft for conjugal jaunting is a small matter for a man who allegedly pocketed as much of the funds meant for running the Air Force as possible. Little wonder air support for our gallant troops was virtually absent during his stay at the helm of affairs in that crucial institution. One of the few instances he made of show of providing air support ended in the Rann massacre, in which scores of Nigerians were killed by friendly fire from the Sadique Abubakar-led Air Force at that time. So, he cannot keep his hands out the tills and he cannot carry out his assigned duties diligently yet he aspires to the highest offices in the land.
That these two, one serving and one former public office holders, are now married is their kettle of fish. What is of concern is that the duo has now set sight on the governorship seat of Bauchi state as a prelude to Sadique Abubakar running for the office of President, Federal Republic of Nigeria when the zoning of that position next swings north. This forbodes evil for Nigeria because this couple will not only appropriate the country to themselves but they would also be murderously dictatorial from the much we have seen of them.
It is instructive that the funds looted from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development are now surfacing in Bauchi state, where Sadiya Farouq, reportedly doles out bales of naira and foreign currencies to those from whom she is seeking political favours. A beneficiary recounted an incidence, just before the All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship, how each person that passed through the couple’s home on this particular day went away with at least one million naira.
The money that should have been spent on air assets for combatting terrorism similarly showed up during the APC governorship primary in Bauchi, which Sadique Abubakar bought and is now the APC candidate. The manner he spent money to buy the ticket has distorted the political landscape of the state just as it is altering the security landscape of the state for the worse. The portion of the funds that went to terrorist cells that Sadique Abubakar allegedly used to suppress opposition to his emergence is now flooding the state with small and light weapons that analysts have predicted would help Boko Haram/Islamic State West African Province to resurge. A development that is not surprising since other analysts, with the benefit of hindsight, are now saying Sadique Abubakar must have anticipated hence a possible deliberate compromising of the counter-terrorism war on his part – did he withhold air support from the war on terrorists so that they are available for him to use as foot soldiers for achieving his governorship ambition? He is the only one that can answer that.
One thing is certain, the Sadique Abubakar and Sadiya Farouq combo is a toxic component that has no place in the Nigerian political space given their antecedents. They steal whatever is kept in their care without remorse and they have not shown any inkling of planning to quit the dirty habit. Even if they lied that the perfidy under their watch in their various official positions was the work of their subordinates or staff, that would have proven that they are incapable of being efficient supervisors and are in no capacity to manage the affairs of Bauchi state as governor and first lady talk less of being the president of Nigeria.
There are therefore urgent tasks for stakeholders in Bauchi state. The APC chapter in the state must retrace its steps to correct the error of allocating or selling the governorship ticket to the former Chief of Air Staff. It is a decision they would rue should he go ahead to win at the General Elections – all their state’s resources would be personalized by this hardened character who would then proceed to deploy them for pursuing his presidential ambition, a position he hopes to occupy with his partner in crime by his side as the first lady.
Where the APC fails to correct its errors, the matter would then be in the hands of the Bauchi electorates, who must see a vote against Sadique Abubakar as a vote cast for saving their dear state from the claws of a carrion eater, a vulture. In undertaking this assignment, the voters in Bauchi state must see themselves as saving Nigeria from a calamitous disaster in the future. The country cannot afford to have a tag team that is this dubious to be further rewarded with higher offices. This means that this problem is no longer a Bauchi state affair alone. They must realize that they owe the rest of us a responsibility to not export this disaster to the national level and the way to do that is to stop him now at the state level.
And to this Nigeria’s version of “Bonnie and Clyde” a word of advice. They should take time off from pillaging the public treasury at any level of government. They should go on a permanent honeymoon to perpetually celebrate their marriage of convenience as a criminal duo with the much they have taken from the country. That is until such a time that Nigerians will demand a refund and restitution from them. For now, Nigeria does not need the vultures that they are in the national space.
Adamu wrote this piece from ATBU Bauchi.