Ignore them General Magashi
By Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo
“Whatever proceeds one gets from the sale of an Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL), duly granted cannot be described as theft of public funds. There is also no allegation that the grant was not properly granted…”
A mean PREMIUM TIMES story impugning the choice of President Buhari’sDefence Minister, General Bashir Salihi Magashi of 27th August 2019 was hinged on claims that monies said to have been retrieved from him by Obasanjo in his term as elected President from 1999 were proceeds of crime.
On this, I say ignore them, General. Go on with the job. That is their fear. It is President Buhari’s success they don’t want to see. On that they are way too late.
The block-heads refuse to face the reality that the money they point to is from an allocation of an Oil Prospecting License (OPL). And that it was freely and legally given by the government of the day that Magashi served in. And that it was not in doubt he served with merit and distinction in all he did.
That it was part of the tradition of severance gratuities paid for services rendered to the nation by successive military governments.
If it was proceeds of crime, the Government and true to his well known predisposition General Obasanjo, in particular, would have surely confiscated the whole sum claimed and in addition jailed the General knowing where General Magashi stands politically, as a Buhari supporter who had served Buhari when he was Military Head of State and had served Obasanjo’s arch-enemy, General Abacha. But he did not; because he could not, at least not legally.
That the Obasanjo Government also lost the bid to confiscate much bigger sums from General Danjuma and others who, unlike the more docile Magashi, went to court and secured a Supreme Court order stopping the illegal looting of legitimate earnings from allocations by government.
Puncturing the claims and innuendoes apparently planted on the PREMIUM TIMES unknown to its fine journalists, by “interested parties”, was widely circulated first on The Chevening Scholars Alumni Association Of Nigeria (TCAAN), where we have an array of leading professionals and intellectuals from across the Nigerian landscape with Mr. John Momoh, Oga at the Top at CHANNELS Television as our President.
My intervention is reproduced here for: “ENCOUNTERS with KMG” Column on The PYRAMID Newspaper Online, with some very slight editing, especially because there appears a determined evil campaign against the Buhari Government by “interested parties.”
Blinded by their selfish and myopic quest, they harbour the misguided notion that it was by hitting again and again on Magashi that they would have him lose favour with the President, Commander-in-Chief, General Buhari, his boss of more than four decades.
That is way they’d derail the new found zeal and focus of the nation’s security team since General Magashi came aboard.
Another internet platform, “www.medium.com”, rehashed the same Premium Times vile trash and added its two-liner to keep the negative tales repetitively in the public space, pointedly asking why nothing has been done for 19 days since the second repost of their story.
The first one was the day of screening of ministers. Now the third and surely last time, they’d receive any notice from all reasoning Nigerians was on September 16th.
To make sure the scheme of the evil ones is exposed I recall my response to the second redo of the tales. That was after a brief two-line comment on the story by respected and leading member of the referenced pan-Nigerian TCAAN Watsapp group, a Professor, who’d exclaimed aloud as to why the relevant agencies failed to see the claims made against the new Minister allowing him to scale security screening.
Earlier, on the day of Senate Ministerial screening, the first scurrilous story was published hitting at General Magashi on account of age and whispers of corruption; whispers that were clearly tenuous and without any shred of evidence. The purpose was to trip him up at the National Assembly.
That failed and that was what must have led to the idiotic item under review planted on PREMIUM TIMES.
Because the Professor’s interventions are usually educated befitting his education and exposure, I began thus:
“Do pardon my rather windy riposte to this PREMIUM TIMES slander of Our Federal Minister from Kano.
”I write not to defend the General, our brand new Defence Minister. His performance, his records in assignments past will do that for him in due course. In addition, Prof. Sir, I am not given to defending any crimes, talk less criminal appropriation of our national resources.
”But then if we are here talking of $550,000, out of which only $150,000 has been allowed him from his severance grant as a top military commander and politician on leaving service is this sum anywhere near the $16 billion lost to power that we don’t have yet?
“Is this anywhere near that N300 billion dashed to late Tony Anenih on roads shortly before the 2003 elections? These two tips of the iceberg were obvious and public pilferages under the same Obasanjo who is said to have ordered the forfeiture of the dollars alleged to have been found with our General Magashi.
“What of the appropriation of our national assets by Obasanjo and associates under the guise of privatization to an immature private sector? ”Or worse, the direct appropriation of our bank assets by fledgling capitalists. Remember how only 20 of these buccaneer rogue capitalists cornered 2/3rds of the N5trillion of bank monies that AMCON had to take over?
”As an aside with such massive deployments of our national assets, don’t you all wonder why there was no single name from the North on the First 20 Big Loan Defaulters that nearly broke our banking system?
“It was only the quick and determined intervention of CBN under Sarkin Kano, MalamMuhammaduSanusi II and President Yar’Adua that the wound was staved. Federal Character was ignored in these accumulations.
”Any wonder the North is the vast open wound and exposed veins of Nigerian and global poverty?
”Anyway, my point here is that with this as background if at all an excuse could be given for taking from the national treasury may be the Magashi case is a well-deserved excuse, particularly compared to the humongous sums we hear of nowadays.
“Recall that the Saint Obasanjo Government had in a separate but similarly motived case, of apparent vendetta earlier caused the fruitless probe of General MuhammaduBuhari’s PTF.
“It was a wild goose chase of the same apparent motive that led to the flailing targeted vendetta that had Obasnajo asked Magashi to return what had legitimately been given him by the powers of the day – – not for a project, mark you, but as a ”Thank-You-for-services-rendered.”
“That is and has been standard practice in governance the world over, more so in Nigeria. ”It is normal for outgoing governments to “settle” loyal servants from the national treasury.
“In fact Obasanjo, to his eternal credit, was to later establish a more comprehensive and I must say, more reasonable and formal precedence through the package of pensions and severance gratuities for political office holders.
“The target is so that there is no pressure on those of the clan of ‘clean’ public servants and political appointees to dip their hands into the treasury while in service.
”It was well a thought-out policy designed by the Revenue Mobilsation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) under late Engr. HammanTukur.
“Despite all the hue and cry over severance and gratuities of politicians this still makes sense.
“We shouldn’t be deflected off a good cause by the thievery of some politicians today. We shouldn’t throw away the baby away with the bath water.
“With such formalized severance we have every excuse to let loose the ICPC, EFCC and CCB after them if they failed the test.
”On another plane, have we all forgotten so soon that General Buhari’s main attraction to those of us, Nigerians who believed in and supported him for the Presidency was his competence in security management as a former Military Commander and of course his integrity?
“That is why we all rooted for him when things got so bad after Obasanjo and PDP’s terrible times, knowing full well and hoping that with GMB in charge there should be proper application of resources in the fight against insecurity.
“On that, thankfully we are generally proved right, despite the many new forms of security troubles that have surfaced of recent.
“In that case, is it not smart of him to bring in a truly tested General of his type with all the experience needed and the avowed competence to lead that front more frontally and more vigorously with the robustness needed to finish the job?
”General Magashi has been all over the Military and security terrain for three decades or more. He has served at the highest levels.
“He is a tested combatant for whom the whole military establishment has the greatest respect.
“He is a lawyer, called to the bar in the 1980s. He is an alumnus of the nation’s premier Think Tank, the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).
”He has served as Military Secretary; Commander, Brigade of Guards; Garrison Commander; Military Governor; NDA Commandant; Commander ECOMOG Peace Keeping Force and subsequently member of the highest Executive and Lawmaking Military Council, under two successive Heads of State, the Provisional Ruling Council which voluntarily handed over power to President Obasanjo after the 1998/99 poll.