Secretary to Nigerian Government Fights for Survival
There has been nothing of the sort in recent memory. The decision is not binding on the president but it has moral weight around the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. In fact, it ties President Buhari’s hands, being a government that has declared its raison d’être to be war against corruption. And here is a situation whereby the Senate, the upper Chamber of the legislative arm of government says the chief scribe is complicit in diverting funds meant for the administration of the north eastern Nigerian humanitarian crisis. Babachir Lawal, the chief scribe is from the north eastern state of Adamawa. The interim report of the Adhoc Committee of the Senate on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East fingered Mr Lawal for contravening Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations as well as provisions of Public Procurement Act. It specifically pointed out award of contracts to companies in which Lawal’s cronies or family members are said to own. That is where he is not personally said to be involved. Involvement of cronies of other senior government officials was also hinted in the report.
A complete report of the adhoc Committee is still being awaited but the interim report has documented Lawal being a signatory to the account of the company Rholavision Engineering Limited which won one of the contracts. Asking President Buhari to suspend Lawal from office in preparation for his prosecution, the Senate indicted Lawal also for allegedly pocketing contracts which the Presidential Initiative for the North East, (PINE) awarded, naming Global Vision Ltd over for benefitting from inflated and phantom contracts.
The House of Representatives won’t be far in coming up with a similar position and if that happens, it would be difficult to see how the chief scribe might survive without the Buhari regime carrying the baggage of protecting too many people. The mood in government is such that the dramatic outcome from the Senate is even being interpreted as statecraft, as a neat way of getting Lawal out. His performance has been said to be less than stellar.
Some people had felt that his appointment was supportable because of the forces linked to his securing the job and who are considered credible. Above all, his previous personal relationship with the president was considered a potentially stabilising factor compared to if a conventional politicians had been given the job. Over a year on the job, the verdict has changed. Observers are talking openly of Lawal being responsible for the virtual auto pilot state Nigeria is said to be in because “he lacks political sense of things” expected from the SGF while at the same time, he is not that much of an expert technocrat either”.
There have, predictably, been no words from the president on the development. Even the chief scribe appears short of words, merely telling reporters after the Budget presentation by the president Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 that the Senate wanted to rubbish him. He said no more. The chief scribe might survive it all but it is also very likely that that might be his last statement as a high government official as far as this government is concerned.